Session: Neighborhood Poverty and Inequality, Economic Mobility, and Income Support Policy: Implications for Child Maltreatment (Society for Social Work and Research 25th Annual Conference - Social Work Science for Social Change)

All live presentations are in Eastern time zone.

66 Neighborhood Poverty and Inequality, Economic Mobility, and Income Support Policy: Implications for Child Maltreatment

Wednesday, January 20, 2021: 5:15 PM-6:15 PM
Cluster: Child Welfare
Symposium Organizer:
Lawrence Berger, PhD, University of Wisconsin-Madison
Emily Putnam-Hornstein, PhD, University of Southern California
Each year, nearly 6% of all U.S. children are investigated by child protective services (CPS), nearly 1% are determined to be victims of child abuse and/or neglect, and nearly 700,000 spend some time in foster care. Yet, these prevalence rates are just the tip of the iceberg. Over the course of childhood, from birth to age 18, more than a third of all children and more than half of black children are investigated by CPS, 13% of all children and 21% of black children are determined to be victims of abuse or neglect, and 6% of all children and 12% of black children spend some time in foster care. Public spending on CPS, including foster care, totals nearly $30 billion per year. Thus, child maltreatment is an expansive and expensive social problem, and CPS is a far-reaching and expensive policy response that disproportionately affects socially and economically disadvantaged children and families, as well as children of color. Yet, despite these troubling statistics, CPS typically receives limited focus in major social policy debates.

Evidence suggests that economic insecurity—including precarious employment, unemployment, and low incomes—is associated with increased child abuse and neglect and foster care placement. As such, the COVID-19 outbreak has the potential to significantly increase child maltreatment and foster care placement rates, particularly among low income families. At the same time, a growing body of research indicates that the link between income and child maltreatment is likely causal in nature and that more generous income support policies have the potential to reduce maltreatment and foster care placement. Thus, a range of policy initiatives, including income support expansions under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economy Security (CARES) Act (2020), may serve to reduce child maltreatment risk.

The four papers in this panel have implications for understanding the role of neighborhood poverty and inequality, opportunities for intergenerational economic mobility, and economic support policies vis-Ã -vis adverse childhood experiences (ACEs), parenting quality, child maltreatment, and foster care placement rates. The first paper examines differences in levels of ACEs experienced by children born into neighborhoods lower- and higher-poverty neighborhoods. The second, examines the relation between neighborhood-level inequality and child maltreatment risk, paying particular attention to the interactions between neighborhood inequality and family socioeconomic background. The third paper interrogates whether parenting quality may be a key mechanism linking geographic location (county) during childhood with intergenerational economic mobility. The final paper uses micro-simulation methods to estimate the reductions in child maltreatment and foster care placements that are likely to result from implementation (and associated poverty reduction) of the recent National Academy of Science-recommended child poverty reduction packages. Together the panel will shed new light on understanding how local economic conditions and economic support policies may affect parenting behaviors and child maltreatment and foster care rates in the current context of widespread inequality and economic instability. The discussant will further weave together how place-based interventions and broader economic support policies may help to prevent child maltreatment.

* noted as presenting author
Neighborhood Context at Birth and Risk for Adverse Childhood Experiences over the First 15 Years of Life
Kathryn Maguire-Jack, PhD, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor; Sarah Font, The Pennsylvania State University; Kathryn Showalter, PhD, Ohio State University; Rebecca Dillard, MSW, Ohio State University; Darejan Dvalishvili, MD, MSW, Washington University in Saint Louis
Uncovering the Role of Neighborhood Inequality in Shaping Child Maltreatment Risk
Liwei Zhang, PhD, Rutgers University; Lenna Nepomnyaschy, PhD, Rutgers University; Cassandra Simmel, PhD, Rutgers University
Economic (im)Mobility and Responsive and Harsh Parenting
William Schneider, PhD, Northwestern University; Jeanne Brooks-Gunn, PhD
The Effects of Child Poverty Reductions on Child Maltreatment and Placement into out-of-Home Care
Jessica Pac, PhD, University of Wisconsin-Madison; Sophie Collyer, MS, Columbia University; Christopher Wimer, PhD, Columbia University; Lawrence Berger, PhD, University of Wisconsin-Madison; Jane Waldfogel, PhD, Columbia University; Peter Pecora, PhD; Whitney Rostad, Casey Family Programs; Elizabeth Parker, Casey Family Programs; Kirk O’Brien, PhD
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