Child Welfare Social Work

Every day in the United States, an average of 2,400 children experience child abuse. Child abuse or neglect kills about 3 children in the US every day.

In 2013, there were about 679,000 confirmed victims of child abuse and maltreatment. National rates for childhood maltreatment averaged at approximately 9 children per 1,000 in the population. State averages varied greatly, but some states had rates as high as nearly 20 children per 1,000.

The Child Welfare System aims to keep children safe and protect them from harm, as well as to provide necessary services to at-risk families to improve home conditions and stabilize family units.

The “Child Welfare System” has a very broad reach. It spans both private and public agencies, and relies heavily on other community systems as well. It includes Child Protective Services, foster care, family preservation services, adoption services, group homes, residential facilities, and kinship care services.

Agencies of Child Protection Services have an average staff size of 26 people. Of these, an average of only 3 staff held a Master of Social Work (MSW) degree.

In 2002, the National Association of Social Workers conducted a study which found that only 8% of social workers listed Child Welfare as their main area of practice.

Child Protective Services receives approximately 3.6 million referrals every year.

The most prevalent reason for referral to CPS is physical abuse, followed by sexual abuse, emotional neglect, emotional abuse, and physical neglect.

During 2013, about 402,000 children were enrolled in the foster care system. Throughout the year, nearly 255,000 children entered the system while 234,000 children exited the system.

About 88% of children who exited foster care during 2013 were discharged into a permanent home, including reunification with their family, adoption, or legal guardianship.

Mistreatment during childhood has lifelong effects. One study of 21-year-olds found that 80% of those who reported some type of childhood abuse met the criteria for at least one psychological disorder.

In addition to mental health effects, childhood maltreatment also puts individuals at higher risk for Intimate Partner Violence, substance use disorders, risky behavior, adolescent pregnancy, etc.


Click to access naswchildwelfarerpt062004.pdf

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