The Major Talking Points:
Child maltreatment is preventable;
Our belief is that investments in evidence based strategies such as home visitation, parent support and education and information on early childhood development are working and proving to be less costly to our communities and nation;
REMINDER: The 3rd NIS report pre-dated the massive investments made by the state and federal governments in prevention. Now is not the time to stop those investments.
The prevention infrastructure is at-risk of being un-raveled due to budget cuts.
The report provides policy makers with “Next Steps” to continue this trend:
We must place that in the context of the current economy and consider the outcomes if the study was performed today.
Children of unemployed parents had two times the rate of maltreatment overall, (2 times the rate of abuse and (3 times the rate of neglect than employed parents);
Children living in households below $15,000 were neglected seven times the rate of other children living in households above $15,000;
Children living with a biological parent and a live-in partner had eight times the rate of maltreatment overall, compared with children living with both biological parents.
Lesson to be learned: Don’t cut the prevention budget in these challenging economic times.
Other important observations:
The public is aware of the issue but are they engaged in preventing maltreatment?
The study found that only about 1 out of every 3 children who experienced harm or endangerment were investigated by CPS….that is not necessarily a cps issue, it is a public issue. (The data does not advise whether the cases were reported and they were not investigated by cps or whether they were simply never reported).
The lowest rates of investigation occurred for children recognized at schools, daycare or shelters. What does this mean? What corrective actions can be taken?
Emotional neglect increased; unclear why, but this needs additional study.
What Can Be Done?
Consider services that provide the needed supports to families so abuse and neglect never occurs.
Support policy decisions that are based on the premise that children, are in fact, our most valuable resource.
EXAMPLE: The Senate, the House and the President all have endorsed a significant federal investment in home visitation….now they need to finish the job by enacting the new funding.
Recognize that abuse and neglect crosses all socioeconomic lines and is precipitated by everyday stressors like unemployment, underemployment and home foreclosures.
HAVE EVERYONE AGREE THAT PREVENTION MEANS THE CHILD IS NEVER ABUSED OR NEGLECTED.
Having this generally agreed upon goal will focus policymakers, researcher and the public on common sense strategies to give every child an even start in life.