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

Ron Haskins - The ANNALS of the American Academy of Political and Social Science


Government efforts toward the prevention, detection, and investigation of child abuse and neglect are carried out through the United States’ child welfare system—a complex web of programs that provide family assistance and promote child safety. Most funding for these activities is split among federal, state, and local governments and comprises specific child welfare–related funding (such as Titles IV-E and IV-B of the Social Security Act) and non–child welfare funding that is spent on programs that support poor and disadvantaged families (Medicaid and TANF). I provide an overview of these funding streams that finance the child welfare system, review the federal legislation since 1970 that has led to the current funding structure, and end with a discussion of how the Family First Prevention Services Act of 2018 has the potential to create better outcomes for children and families by promoting prevention activities and program support with strong evidence of success.

This article is part of the volume The Contemporary U.S. Child Welfare System(s): Overview and Key Challenges.