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- Definition: Number of substantiated cases of abuse and neglect for children under age 18, by race/ethnicity (e.g., in 2015, 40,978 substantiated cases of abuse and neglect in California concerned Hispanic/Latino children).Number of substantiated cases of abuse and neglect per 1,000 children under age 18, by race/ethnicity (e.g., in 2015, there were 8.8 substantiated cases of abuse and neglect per 1,000 Hispanic/Latino children in California).
- Data Source: Webster, D., et al. Child Welfare Services Reports for California, U.C. Berkeley Center for Social Services Research (Jun. 2016); Annie E. Casey Foundation, KIDS COUNT (Jul. 2016).
- Footnote: A child is counted only once (per year, per county). Data for California and counties include only "substantiated" cases, while data for the U.S. include "substantiated" as well as "indicated" and "alternative response victims." "Substantiated" means that the allegation was conclusively founded. "Indicated" means that the allegation could not be conclusively substantiated, but there was sufficient evidence to suspect maltreatment. LNE (Low Number Event) refers to data that have been suppressed because there were fewer than 20 substantiated cases of abuse among children in that group. N/A means that data are not available.
- Measures of Child Abuse and Neglect on Kidsdata.org
Child abuse and neglect indicators are broken into two broad categories: the incidence of child abuse and neglect reports and the incidence of substantiated cases. Generally speaking, most reports of child abuse/neglect are not substantiated by Child Protective Services after an investigation. Typically, as the public becomes more aware of child maltreatment and how to report it, the rate of reports goes up. The rate of substantiated cases is generally a more reliable measure of the prevalence of abuse and neglect because it reflects verified reports. On kidsdata.org, data on both reports and substantiated cases of abuse/neglect are provided overall, by age, by race/ethnicity, and by type of abuse.
- Child Abuse and Neglect
- Births Outside of Marriage (California & U.S. Only)
- Child Population (Regions of 65,000 Residents or More)
- Children in Rural and Urban Areas (California & U.S. Only)
- Child Population, by County
- Total Population
- Public School Enrollment
- Intimate Partner Violence
- Childhood Adversity and Resilience
- Children with Two or More Adverse Experiences (Parent Reported)
- Children Who Are Resilient (Parent Reported)
- Prevalence of Childhood Hardships (Maternal Retrospective)
- by Family Income (CA Only)
- by Maternal Age (CA Only)
- by Prenatal Insurance Coverage (CA Only)
- by Race/Ethnicity (CA Only)
- Basic Needs Not Met
- Basic Needs Not Met, by Family Income (CA Only)
- Basic Needs Not Met, by Maternal Age (CA Only)
- Basic Needs Not Met, by Prenatal Insurance Coverage (CA Only)
- Basic Needs Not Met, by Race/Ethnicity (CA Only)
- Family Hunger
- Family Hunger, by Family Income (CA Only)
- Family Hunger, by Maternal Age (CA Only)
- Family Hunger, by Prenatal Insurance Coverage (CA Only)
- Family Hunger, by Race/Ethnicity (CA Only)
- Foster Care Placement
- Foster Care Placement, by Family Income (CA Only)
- Foster Care Placement, by Maternal Age (CA Only)
- Foster Care Placement, by Prenatal Insurance Coverage (CA Only)
- Foster Care Placement, by Race/Ethnicity (CA Only)
- Prevalence of Adverse Childhood Experiences (Adult Retrospective)
- Disconnected Youth
- Foster Care
- First Entries into Foster Care
- Children in Foster Care
- Length of Time from Foster Care to Adoption
- Median Number of Months in Foster Care
- Placement Distances from Home
- Placement Stability, by Number of Placements
- Re-entries into Foster Care
- Exit Status After One Year in Foster Care
- Exit Status After Four Years in Foster Care
- Why This Topic Is Important
Child maltreatment can cause serious physical injuries and even death (1). Children who are abused or neglected, including those who witness domestic violence, also are more likely to experience cognitive, emotional, and behavioral problems, such as anxiety, depression, substance abuse, delinquency, difficulty in school, and early sexual activity (1, 2). In addition, child maltreatment can disrupt brain and physical development, particularly when experienced in early childhood, increasing the risk for health problems in adulthood, e.g., heart disease, cancer, obesity, depression, and suicide, among others (1, 2, 3). Children who are abused or neglected also are more likely to repeat the cycle of violence by entering into violent relationships as teens and adults or by abusing their own children (1).
Beyond the impact on individuals, child abuse has a significant impact on society; the total lifetime economic cost due to new child maltreatment cases in a single year is estimated at $124 billion in the U.S. (1, 3). An estimated 702,000 U.S. children were documented victims of maltreatment in 2014, and approximately 1,580 of these children died from abuse or neglect (4). These figures are considered underestimates, though, as child maltreatment is underreported (3).While abuse and neglect occur in all types of families, certain factors place children at increased risk. For example, children under age 4 and those with special needs are at greatest risk for maltreatment (5). Examples of family and community risk factors include substance abuse or mental illness in the family, social isolation, major stress (e.g., poverty), domestic violence, and unsafe neighborhoods (5).
For more information on child abuse and neglect, see kidsdata.org’s Research & Links section.
Sources for this narrative:
1. Child Welfare Information Gateway. (2013). Long-term consequences of child abuse and neglect. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Children’s Bureau. Retrieved from: https://www.childwelfare.gov/pubs/factsheets/long-term-consequences
2. National Center for Injury Prevention and Control. (2016). Child abuse and neglect: Consequences. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved from: http://www.cdc.gov/ViolencePrevention/childmaltreatment/consequences.html
3. National Center for Injury Prevention and Control. (2014). Understanding child maltreatment (Fact Sheet). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved from: https://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/pdf/understanding-cm-factsheet.pdf
4. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Children's Bureau. (2016). Child maltreatment 2014. Retrieved from: http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/cb/resource/child-maltreatment-2014
5. National Center for Injury Prevention and Control. (2016). Child maltreatment: Risk and protective factors. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved from: http://www.cdc.gov/ViolencePrevention/childmaltreatment/riskprotectivefactors.html
- How Children Are Faring
In 2015, there were 500,976 reports (allegations) of child abuse and neglect in California. Of those, 74,327, or 15%, were substantiated (verified) by the state child welfare system. About two-thirds (67%) of verified cases were due to general neglect, which includes cases in which a parent, guardian, or caregiver failed to provide adequate food, shelter, medical care, or supervision for the child, but no physical injury occurred. Neglect consistently has been the most common type of substantiated case statewide and in nearly all counties for which data are available. California’s rate of substantiated cases of child abuse or neglect declined from 12 cases per 1,000 children ages 0-17 in 1998 to 8.2 in 2015. Children ages 0-5 make up nearly half of all substantiated cases of child abuse/neglect in California; they comprised 47% of all cases in 2015, up from 40% in 1998.
Statewide, child abuse and neglect cases disproportionately involve children of color, particularly African American/black and American Indian/Alaska Native children. For more information on racial disproportionality in child welfare, see the Child Welfare Information Gateway or the Center for the Study of Social Policy.
- Policy Implications
Child abuse/neglect is a serious public health problem with substantial consequences for both the individuals affected and society as a whole (1). Children at risk of maltreatment, and those already in the child welfare system, interact with a range of public and private systems that can help prevent child abuse, mitigate its effects, and ensure that children have safe, permanent homes. Policymakers have a role in helping to prevent child maltreatment, as well as in ensuring early detection, reporting of abuse and neglect, and providing appropriate services for victims. While California has made major strides in these areas in recent years, continued efforts are needed to ensure the safety of all children (2).
Policies and programs that could help prevent and address child abuse/neglect include:
For more research, policy, and program information related to child maltreatment, see kidsdata.org’s Research & Links section, the Child Welfare Information Gateway, or the California Evidence-Based Clearinghouse for Child Welfare.
- Continuing to ensure that effective prevention services are in place—including accurate risk assessment, parent education, family support, and home-visiting services—for families with children at risk of abuse or neglect (3, 4)
- Promoting ongoing efforts to increase collaboration across organizations and sectors (e.g., local and state government, education, health care, nonprofits, media, etc.) to ensure that all children have safe, stable, nurturing relationships and environments; such efforts may focus on changing community norms, sharing and using data to inform policies and enhance programs, and improving service coordination, among other options (4, 5, 6)
- Supporting policies that help reduce family stress and promote stable environments for children, e.g., those that support low-income families, encourage self-sufficiency, and ensure that quality, affordable child care is available (4)
- Continuing efforts to provide an accessible system of mental health services for parents and children in foster care or at risk of entering foster care (4, 7)
- Continuing to implement “differential response,” in which child protective service agencies tailor responses to child abuse/neglect reports, depending on the severity of the allegations and the families’ particular needs (8)
- Supporting effective strategies to reduce the overrepresentation of children of color entering the child welfare system, especially African American/black and American Indian/Alaska Native children (9)
Sources for this narrative:
1. National Center for Injury Prevention and Control. (2014). Understanding child maltreatment (Fact Sheet). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved from: https://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/pdf/understanding-cm-factsheet.pdf
2. California Department of Social Services. (2015). California’s child welfare continuum of care reform. Retrieved from: http://www.cdss.ca.gov/cdssweb/entres/pdf/CCR_LegislativeReport.pdf
3. National Center for Injury Prevention and Control. (2016). Child abuse and neglect: Prevention strategies. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved from: http://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/childmaltreatment/prevention.html
4. National Center for Injury Prevention and Control. (2016). Essentials for childhood: Steps to create safe, stable, nurturing relationships and environments. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved from: http://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/childmaltreatment/essentials.html
5. Child Welfare League of America. (2013). National blueprint for excellence in child welfare. Retrieved from: http://www.cwla.org/our-work/cwla-standards-of-excellence/national-blueprint-for-excellence-in-child-welfare
6. California Child Welfare Council, Child Development and Successful Youth Transitions Committee. (2013). Building a system of support for young children in foster care. Retrieved from: http://www.chhs.ca.gov/Child%20Welfare/Young%20Children%20in%20Foster%20Care%20Full%20Report%20-%20Revised%20Nov%202013.pdf
7. California Department of Social Services, & California Department of Health Care Services. (2013). Pathways to mental health services: Core practice model guide. Retrieved from: http://www.childsworld.ca.gov/res/pdf/CorePracticeModelGuide.pdf
8. Child Welfare Information Gateway. (2014). Differential response to reports of child abuse and neglect. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Children’s Bureau. Retrieved from: https://www.childwelfare.gov/pubs/issue-briefs/differential-response
9. Miller, O., & Esenstad, A. (2015). Strategies to reduce racially disparate outcomes in child welfare. Center for the Study of Social Policy, Alliance for Racial Equity in Child Welfare. Retrieved from: http://www.cssp.org/publications/child-welfare?type=child_welfare_alliance_for_race_equity
- Websites with Related Information
- California Dept. of Social Services: Office of Child Abuse Prevention
- California Evidence-Based Clearinghouse for Child Welfare
- Center for the Study of Social Policy: Child Welfare
- Center on the Developing Child, Harvard University
- Child Trends: Child Maltreatment/Child Welfare
- Child Welfare, Chapin Hall at the University of Chicago
- Child Welfare Information Gateway, U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services, Children’s Bureau
- Child Welfare League of America
- First Focus State Policy Advocacy and Reform Center
- National Center for Injury Prevention and Control: Child Maltreatment Prevention
- Office of Planning, Research & Evaluation: Abuse, Neglect, Adoption & Foster Care, U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services
- VetoViolence: Child Abuse and Neglect, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
- Key Reports and Research
- 2018 California Children's Report Card, Children Now
- A Birth Cohort Study of Involvement with Child Protective Services Before Age 5: California, 2014, Children’s Data Network, Putnam-Hornstein, E., et al.
- A Hidden Crisis: Findings on Adverse Childhood Experiences in California, 2014, Center for Youth Wellness
- Building Community Commitment for Safe, Stable, Nurturing Relationships and Environments, 2014, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Injury Prevention and Control
- Child Maltreatment 2017, 2019, U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services, Children's Bureau
- Child Welfare and Immigration: Implications for Funders, 2018, Youth Transition Funders Group, Foster Care Workgroup, and the National Center for Youth Law, Desai, N., & Adamson, M.
- Cost of Child Abuse and Neglect Rival Other Major Public Health Problems, 2014, National Center for Injury Prevention and Control
- Disproportionality, U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services, Child Welfare Information Gateway
- Ending the Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children: A Call for Multi-System Collaboration in California, 2013, California Child Welfare Council, Walker, K.
- Family First Prevention Services Act, 2019, National Conference of State Legislatures
- Home Visiting Is a Valuable Investment in California’s Families, 2018, California Budget & Policy Center, Hutchful, E.
- Human Services for Low-Income and At-Risk LGBT Populations: An Assessment of the Knowledge Base and Research Needs, 2015, U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, Burwick, A., et al.
- Income Inequality and Child Maltreatment in the United States, 2014, Pediatrics, Eckenrode, J., et al.
- Long-Term Consequences of Child Abuse and Neglect, 2013, U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services, Child Welfare Information Gateway
- Policy Options for Improving Child Welfare, 2017, RAND
- Strategies to Reduce Racially Disparate Outcomes in Child Welfare, 2015, Center for the Study of Social Policy, Alliance for Racial Equity in Child Welfare, Miller, O., & Esenstad, A.
- Subsequent Maltreatment in Children with Disabilities After an Unsubstantiated Report for Neglect, 2016, The Journal of the American Medical Association, Kistin, C. J., et al.
- The Role of the Family and Family-Centered Programs and Policies, 2015, The Future of Children, Berger, L. M., & Font, S. A.
- Understanding the Effects of Maltreatment on Brain Development, 2015, U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services, Child Welfare Information Gateway
- County/Regional Reports
- 2014 Solano Children's Report Card, Children's Network of Solano County
- 2017 Kern County Report Card, Kern County Network for Children
- 2018-19 California County Scorecard of Children's Well-Being, Children Now
- Community Health Assessment and Community Health Improvement Plan, Los Angeles County Dept. of Public Health
- Connecting the Dots: Snapshots of Child Well-Being in Los Angeles County, Children's Data Network
- Cumulative Risk of Child Protective Service Involvement before Age 5: A Population-Based Examination, 2014, Children’s Data Network, Putnam-Hornstein, E., et al.
- Live Well San Diego Report Card on Children, Families, and Community, 2017, The Children's Initiative & Live Well San Diego
- Orange County Community Indicators Report, Orange County Community Indicators Project
- San Mateo County All Together Better, San Mateo County Health
- Santa Clara County Children's Agenda: 2018 Data Book, Planned Parenthood & Kids in Common
- Santa Monica Youth Wellbeing Report Card, Santa Monica Cradle to Career
- The 24th Annual Report on the Conditions of Children in Orange County, 2018, Orange County Children's Partnership
- Youth Need Data, Get Healthy San Mateo County
- More Data Sources For Child Abuse and Neglect
- Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) Study, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention & Kaiser Permanente
- California Child Welfare Indicators Project, UC Berkeley Center for Social Services Research & California Dept. of Social Services
- California Health and Human Services Open Data Portal, California Health and Human Services Agency
- Children’s Bureau: Statistics & Research, U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services
- Children's Data Network, USC Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work
- KIDS COUNT Data Center, Annie E. Casey Foundation
- National Data Archive on Child Abuse and Neglect, Cornell University, College of Human Ecology
- National Survey of Children's Exposure to Violence, U.S. Dept. of Justice Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention
- State Child Welfare Policy Database, Child Trends & Casey Family Programs
- State-Level Data for Understanding Child Welfare in the United States, 2019, Child Trends
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