Neighborhood and built environment is a social determinant of health, or a nonmedical factor that impacts the health and well-being of children, youth, and families. It refers to the community where someone lives, including its physical, environmental, and societal conditions and its impact on individual and family health and well-being.  

It is important to recognize that challenges associated with certain neighborhoods and built environments are often driven by historic inequities and are out of an individual’s control. For example, a neighborhood shaped by systemic racism may experience high crime rates, oversurveillance, or underfunded public services, such as schools and housing. Many of these external factors increase the likelihood of families coming to the attention of child welfare. Similarly, many of the root causes of family issues can stem from neighborhood and environmental circumstances.    

Child welfare professionals can raise awareness of how neighborhoods and built environments directly impact access to economic and concrete supports, which are both related to poverty. This can support efforts to disentangle poverty and neglect and identify options for supporting families rather than reporting them for issues related to poverty.  

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