Prevention and the Child Protection System

The nation’s child protection system (CPS) has historically focused on preventing maltreatment in high-risk families, whose children have already been maltreated. But, as Jane Waldfogel explains, it has also begun developing prevention procedures for children at lower risk—those who are referred to CPS but whose cases do not meet the criteria for ongoing services.

Preventive services delivered by CPS to high-risk families, says Waldfogel, typically include case management and supervision. The families may also receive one or more other preventive services, including individual and family counseling, respite care, parenting education, housing assistance, substance abuse treatment, child care, and home visits. Researchers generally find little evidence, however, that these services reduce the risk of subsequent maltreatment, although there is some promising evidence on the role of child care. Many families receive few services beyond periodic visits by usually overburdened caseworkers, and the services they do receive are often poor in quality.

Preventive services for lower-risk families often focus on increasing parents’ understanding of the developmental stages of childhood and on improving their child-rearing competencies. The evidence base on the effectiveness of these services remains thin. Most research focuses on home-visiting and parent education programs. Studies of home visiting have provided some promising evidence. Little is as yet known about the effects of parent education.

Written by Jane Waldfogel. To read the full article, click here. For more information on family law attorneys, visit our website

Accused of child abuse: A family’s story

It’s a Tuesday like any other. Then, in the afternoon, there’s a knock at the door. The dog starts barking and wakes our 12-week-old baby, Sam. My partner, Keiron, looks out of the upstairs window to see two women at the front door. We assume they are Jehovah’s Witnesses and Keiron leans out, saying he can’t come down. Then everything changes.

The women are police. They work in child protection services. Keiron, Sam and I go downstairs to find out what’s going on. They tell us to sit down and ask Keiron if he knows why they are here. He says no. Then they tell us an allegation about a sex offence made by a child at the nursery where he works.

My stomach turns to concrete. I have no shadow of doubt that this is a horrible mistake. I hold Sam in disbelief, calculating all the ways this is going to mess up our lives.

They take our computer away. I’m self-employed, so even though Sam is very young I am still working. I watch my livelihood vanish through the door and ask the police: “Are there any guarantees that it will come back unharmed?” No, they say, adding that it will be a minimum of four to six weeks until it is returned – assuming that it is clean of pornographic images of children. We’re told that paedophiles look at on-screen images of children before moving on to the real thing, so the computer will indicate Keiron’s guilt or otherwise.

Written by  . To read the full article, click here. For more information on family law attorneys, visit our website

Marriage and Divorce: Changes and their Driving Forces

The family is not a static institution. In recent decades, marriage rates have fallen, divorce rates have risen, and the defining characteristics of mar- riage have changed. The economic approach to the family seeks to explain these trends by reference to models that can also explain how and why families form. Gary Becker’s (1981) Treatise on the Family proposed a theory based on “production complementarities,” in which husband and wife specialize in the market and domestic spheres, respectively. Production complementarities also arise in the production and rearing of one’s own children. However, production complementarities—at least as initially described—are decreasingly central to mod- ern family life. Increased longevity and declining fertility mean that most of one’s adult life is spent without one’s own children in the household. Also, the rise in marital formation at older ages, including remarriage, means that many families form with no intention of producing children. Moreover, increases in female labor force participation suggest that household specialization has either declined or, at least taken on a different meaning.
These changes have come about as what is produced in the home has been dramatically altered both by the emergence of labor-saving technology in the home and by the development of service industries that allow much of what was once provided by specialized homemakers to be purchased in the market. The availability of birth control and abortion has affected the potential consequences of sex both in and out of marriage, while changes in divorce laws have altered the terms of the marital bargain. These forces also have important feedback effects, changing the pool of marriageable singles across the age distribution, thereby affecting search, marriage, remarriage, and the extent of “churning” in the marriage market.

Written by Betsey Stevenson and Justin Wolfers. To read the full article, click here.