University of Wisconsin–Madison
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Creating systems synergy across the social welfare policy landscape

Megan Feely and Kerri Raissian, both of University of Connecticut, William Schneider of University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and Lindsey Bullinger of Georgia Tech contribute a vision of “systems synergy,” where the safe and consistent care of children is placed at the philosophical and pragmatic center of all human services agency and program work. Failing to acknowledge economic hardship as a causal factor in child neglect, the researchers suggest, allows federal and state policy to omit the alleviation of financial hardship as a strategic solution.

Takeaways

  • While child abuse rates have declined significantly in recent decades, rates of child neglect have remained steady and high.
  • Failing to acknowledge financial hardship as a causal factor in child neglect allows federal policy to omit the alleviation of financial hardship as a strategic solution to child neglect.
  • Approaches encompassing all families experiencing significant financial hardship are more likely to reduce neglect than targeted approaches focusing only on the families deemed “high risk” for maltreatment or only on those who have already experienced maltreatment.
  • Systems synergy, a flexible model of cooperation or coordination of agencies and services, places safe and consistent care of children at the center of all human services agencies and programs, focuses agency efforts on supporting families in providing safe and consistent care for their children, and reduces opportunities for policies to have unintended and negative consequences.

Categories

Child Maltreatment & Child Welfare System, Children