• November 2005
  • Vol. 6, No. 9

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Child Well-Being in Child Welfare

Safety, permanency, and well-being are the outcomes that child welfare policy mandates, child welfare workers strive for, and children hope to experience. While safety and permanency are relatively well defined, child well-being has been a more nebulous term for policymakers and workers alike. A new book, Beyond Common Sense: Child Welfare, Child Well-Being, and Evidence for Policy Reform, asserts that policy focused on child well-being should be evidence-based and built on a developmental perspective. Specifically, this evidence should include (1) the public health approach to using observational data, as well as (2) the bioecological perspective on human development.

Chapters in the book present both original evidence and a review of the clinical literature on child well-being. Original evidence is drawn from the National Child Abuse and Neglect Data System, the Multistate Foster Care Data Archive, and the National Study of Child and Adolescent Well-Being. The evidence is used to establish a developmental theme that emphasizes age-based patterns in data and suggests that children are particularly at risk at specific ages or stages of development.

The final chapters of the book expand on the developmental theme and address promising practices for children at specific vulnerable ages. Three developmentally distinct populations served by child welfare are discussed: children starting out, children starting school, and children starting adolescence. The authors suggest that these different age groups require different types of services from child welfare. For instance, evidence shows that young children just entering the child welfare system often need educational services, while adolescents are often more in need of mental health services. Policymakers attempting to address child well-being outcomes need to view the different child welfare populations from a developmental perspective and plan services accordingly.

Beyond Common Sense was written by F. Wulczyn, R. P. Barth, Y.-Y. T. Yuan, B. Jones Harden, and J. Landsverk and is available in hardback and paperback from Transaction Publishers at www.transactionpub.com

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