5 Facts Revealing the Truth behind Child Welfare and Social Work

  1. There are an astronomical one million cases of child maltreatment every year in the U.S…and that only accounts for the cases we know about. Half of those cases are due to neglect, one fourth is due to physical abuse, and about 1/10 is due to sexual abuse. Clearly, there is a serious and prevalent issue in regards to child welfare and, and something needs to be done about it. Thankfully, that’s where social workers step in (Dinitto & McNeece, 2008 p. 239).

2. Although in certain cases it is, life is not always black or white. Social workers who investigate child abuse or neglect cases have to take into account many factors; the child’s age, the location and pattern of injuries, how serious that injury might effect someone, the extent of physical neglect and educational neglect, what objects were used in the abuse, and what is legitimate punishment vs. abusive punishment (Dinitto & McNeece, 2008 p. 240).

3. It’s important that we have social workers to investigate and intervene in the appropriate ways when needed. Without them, children who are abused and neglected may suffer even more than they already have. For example, maltreatment can result in PTSD, trust issues, alcohol or drug misuse, serious mental illnesses, further abusive relationships, become abusers themselves, and intellectual deficits. This is not to say that social work intervention will prevent a child from experiencing some of those effects. But a social worker can provide children with the resources, referrals, and support that they need to function as well as they possibly can given their circumstances. (Dinitto & McNeece, 2008 p. 240-241).

4. Unfortunately, there are many children out there who are taking care of their own parents, even though they are the one’s who desperately  need love, care, and support. 67% of parents who are involved in the child welfare system abuse alcohol or drugs. Many times, this leads to the children being “parentified.” In other words, they are forced to take on the responsibilities and duties of a parent such as feeding their siblings and taking care of them and finding ways to earn money to support the family  (Dinitto & McNeece, 2008 p. 241).

5. Thankfully, there are many outlets out there to help children who are being abused or neglected. For example, for family preservation, the Promoting Safe and Stable Families Program of 1997 “allows states to use federal funds to keep the child safe at home while providing support services to the family, which may include program to strengthen parental relationships” (Dinitto & McNeece, 2008 p. 249). In addition, there are churches out there who will provide space and support to social workers who seek out families who need help. Foster care is another route and there are 500,000 children in the foster care system in the U.S. on any given day. In addition, there is adoption; 2% of American children currently live in adoptive families. There is also kinship care as well as group and residential care (Dinitto & McNeece, 2008 p. 255).


DiNitto, D. M., & McNeece, C. A. (2008). Social Work: Issues and opportunities in a challenging profession. Lyceum Books, (3rd Edition).

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