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February 2024Vol. 25, No. 1Survey Measures the Role of Economic and Concrete Supports in Child Maltreatment Prevention

One way to prevent child maltreatment and child welfare involvement is to provide families with economic and concrete supports. To understand the use of these supports to prevent system involvement, Chapin Hall partnered with the American Public Human Services Association (APHSA) to launch a survey of state child welfare leaders in 2022. The survey is an expansion of APHSA’s Advancing Family Economic Mobility Initiative.

The survey was sent to executive leaders in 52 states, districts, and territories and had an 83 percent response rate. It included five questions:

  1. What do you believe about economic need and child welfare system involvement?
  2. What approach do you use to offer economic and concrete supports to families?
  3. How do you coordinate with other human service systems to offer economic and concrete supports to families?
  4. What are the barriers to offering these supports and what solutions might address those barriers?
  5. How was federal COVID-19 assistance used to fund economic and concrete supports?

The following are some of the survey’s key findings:

  • Respondents believe screening, referring, and helping families receive economic support is the responsibility of both the child welfare agency and public benefit system. However, they prefer the public benefit system to lead the work.
  • Economic and concrete support needs are assessed during child protective services investigations.
  • State funds are the most common funding source of economic and concrete supports, but funds come from a variety of funding streams.
  • Most respondents said an agency other than the child welfare agency administers public benefit programs.
  • Agencies face many barriers to offering economic and concrete supports to families.
  • Agencies used COVID-19 emergency federal assistance to provide cash, utilities, food, housing, child care, employment, and home repairs to families.

A research report on the survey provides more detail about the survey responses and themes, as well as recommendations for policy and practice changes. A summary of the report is available on the Chapin Hall website.