Improving Child Welfare Outcomes: Balancing Investments in Prevention and Treatment.

Child maltreatment has significant negative effects on a child’s cognitive development, social and emotional competence, psychological and behavioral health, and physical health. Maltreated children fare worse than their peers on many important outcomes within these domains. The effects can persist and have long-term consequences into adulthood, including reduced labor market productivity, increased involvement with the criminal justice system, and increased likelihood of homelessness. Given the far-ranging consequences of child maltreatment, a great deal of attention has been focused on identifying policies and programs that address this issue.

These programs and policies fall into two broad categories: those designed to prevent child maltreatment from occurring and those designed to mitigate the effects once maltreatment has occurred. The purpose of this project is to provide objective analyses that can inform the debate about how best to allocate funds to improve child welfare outcomes. The results of this effort will be of interest to policymakers, practitioners, researchers, community leaders, and others interested in better understanding the impact of investing or reallocating resources at different points within the child welfare system. The work described here can help identify strategies that prevent deeper involvement in the child welfare system, assess the costs and benefits of these different strategies, and ultimately improve outcomes for children.

This research was funded by Pritzker Foster Care Initiative and conducted jointly under the auspices of four units at the RAND Corporation: Health; Labor and Population; Education; and Justice, Infrastructure, and Energy. 

Improving Child Welfare Outcomes: Balancing Investments in Prevention and Treatment.
Rand Research Report; RR1775
Ringel, Jeanne S. Schultz, Dana. Mendelsohn, Joshua. Brooks-Holiday, Stephanie. Edochie, Ifeanyi. Davis, Lauren.
Rand Corporation.