• June 2011
  • Vol. 12, No. 5

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Helping At-Risk Families Avoid Out-of-Home Placements

Hard Times Made Harder: Struggling Caregivers and Child Neglect, a new study from the Carsey Institute, examines the relationship between child neglect, poverty, and out-of-home placement of children. Using data from the National Survey of Child and Adolescent Well-Being (NSCAW), researcher Wendy Walsh determined that neglected children from poor families were more likely to be placed in out-of-home care than neglected children from nonpoor families, and children whose caregivers struggled with substance abuse or mental health problems were more likely to be placed in out-of-home care than families without such struggles, even after controlling for other risk factors.

The author goes on to suggest that a differential response option by the child protective services agency may provide more meaningful supports for these struggling families and could reduce out-of-home placements and result in better outcomes. She cites Ohio's Alternative Response Pilot Project as one successful example of addressing comprehensive family needs, many of which result from poverty. The Ohio study results indicated that providing poverty-related services (such as food, clothing, rent, help with obtaining appliances, transportation, and other financial help) and connecting families to counseling and mental health services reduced subsequent reporting of families for child abuse and neglect. Removals and out-of-home placements of children also declined.

The Carsey Institute is affiliated with the University of New Hampshire. The report is available on the institute's website:

www.carseyinstitute.unh.edu/publications/IB-Walsh-Neglect-Final.pdf (462 KB)

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