The Contemporary U.S. Child Welfare System(s): Overview and Key Challenges

Lawrence M. Berger, Kristen S. Slack - The ANNALS of the American Academy of Political and Social Science


This volume of The ANNALS aims to increase awareness among scholars, policy-makers, and practitioners of the size, scope, and functions of child welfare services in the United States. We aim to promote a wider understanding of the broad impacts of child welfare policies and point to ways in which child welfare services can be better incorporated into cross-cutting social policy debates. The articles in this volume offer concrete recommendations for policies and practices that can reduce child maltreatment, and for systemic approaches—both within the purview of child welfare services and across the broader community and social policy landscape—that can better identify and respond to the needs of children and families in which maltreatment has already occurred or where there is a risk of abuse and neglect. This introduction sets a foundation for understanding the contents of the volume: we provide an overview of child welfare services in the United States and highlight current challenges that the U.S. child welfare systems face.

Articles include:

Child Welfare Financing: What Do We Fund, How, and What Could Be Improved?

The Evolution of Federal Child Welfare Policy through the Family First Prevention Services Act of 2018: Opportunities, Barriers, and Unintended Consequences

Foster Care in a Life Course Perspective

Racial Disproportionality and Disparities in the Child Welfare System: Why Do They Exist, and What Can Be Done to Address Them? 

The Scope, Nature, and Causes of Child Abuse and Neglect

The Child Maltreatment Prevention Landscape: Where Are We Now, and Where Should We Go?