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We Shouldn't Rely on Child Protective Services to Address Family Adversity [imprintnews.org]

 

By Kelley Fong, The Imprint, September 20, 2020

For many parents, it’s their worst fear: a knock on the door from a state social worker with the power to take their children. With 1 in 3 children nationwide experiencing a Child Protective Services (CPS) investigation during childhood following a report of child maltreatment, this experience is all too common for U.S. families, especially Black and Native American families.

Child maltreatment conjures images of critically injured or severely neglected children. But in reality, these investigations typically aren’t about “rescuing” children in imminent danger. We task CPS with much more.

spent months embedded with investigating social workers at the Connecticut Department of Children and Families, studying how investigations emerge, unfold and affect families. I saw firsthand how calling CPS has become a crutch for well-intentioned teachers, doctors and even police officers who struggle to address challenges like homelessness, domestic violence, mental health needs and substance misuse.

[Please click here to read more.]

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This important research reminds us that we should highlight the wider social context of ACEs -- adverse community experiences -- and focus not only on what happens in households (child abuse, neglect...) but on what happens to households (inadequate housing, food insecurity, economic insecurity, inconsistent child care...). Changing the social conditions that give rise to much childhood adversity is the clearest route to primary prevention. 

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