Pilot CWS-R-SAP – v. 1 Current CWS, 5. Child Abuse in the United States

Pilot Child Welfare System Redesign

Strategic Action Plan

 

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5. Child Abuse in the United States

 

In 2017, 674,000 maltreated children in the U.S., at a rate of 9 per thousand.   Source: Child Trends https://www.childtrends.org/indicators/child-maltreatment, accessed 8/1/2020
Younger children are maltreated at higher rates than older children; rate for children ages 0 to 3 is three times the rate for children ages 16 to 17.   Source: Child Trends https://www.childtrends.org/indicators/child-maltreatment, accessed 8/1/2020

In 2017, 7 children per 1,000 were reported victims of neglect.   Source: Child Trends https://www.childtrends.org/indicators/child-maltreatment, accessed 8/1/2020

 

Among all reported maltreated children, the proportion with reported neglect increased from 49 percent in 1990 to 75 percent in 2017.   Source: Child Trends https://www.childtrends.org/indicators/child-maltreatment, accessed 8/1/2020

 

More than 15 million children witness domestic violence each year in the United States. (Journal of Family Psychology)   Source: The Center for Family Justice Website, https://centerforfamilyjustice.org/community-education/statistics/, accessed 8/1/2020

 

A report of child abuse is made every 10 seconds. (American Society for the Positive Care of Children)   Source: The Center for Family Justice Website,  https://centerforfamilyjustice.org/community-education/statistics/, accessed 8/1/2020

 

1 in 3 girls and 1 in 7 boys will be sexually assaulted by the time they reach 18. (Dept. of Justice)  Source: The Center for Family Justice Website, https://centerforfamilyjustice.org/community-education/statistics/, accessed 8/1/2020

 

3,500 to 4,000 children witness fatal family violence annually in the United States. (National Task Force on Children Exposed to Violence)   Source: The Center for Family Justice Website,   https://centerforfamilyjustice.org/community-education/statistics/, accessed 8/1/2020

 

More than 4 children die each day because of child abuse; 70% are under the age of 4. (U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services)   Source: The Center for Family Justice Website, https://centerforfamilyjustice.org/community-education/statistics/, accessed 8/1/2020

 

90% of child sexual abuse victims know the perpetrator in some way. 68% are abused by a family member. (U.S. Dept. Justice. “Sexual Assault of Young Children as Reported to Law Enforcement: Victim, Incident, and Offender Characteristics.” Bureau of Justice Statics. Accessed February 21, 2014, http://www.bjs.gov/content/pub/pdf/saycrle.pdf)

 

The estimated annual cost of child abuse and neglect in the United States for 2008 was $124 billion. (2012 Child Abuse & Neglect report)   Source: The Center for Family Justice Website, https://centerforfamilyjustice.org/community-education/statistics/, accessed 8/1/2020

 

“Every child deserves a family.  Our States and communities have both a legal obligation, and the privilege, to care for our Nation’s most vulnerable children.”[1]

 

Letter from the Children’s Bureau Associate Commissioner

Child Maltreatment 2018 is the 29th edition of the annual Child Maltreatment report series. States provide the data for this report through the National Child Abuse and Neglect Data System (NCANDS). NCANDS was established in 1988 as a voluntary, national data collection and analysis program to make available state child abuse and neglect information. Data have been collected every year since 1991 and are collected from child welfare agencies in the 50 states, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, and the District of Columbia. Key findings in this report include [bolding added for emphasis]:

  • The national rounded number of children who received a child protective services investigation response or alternative response increased 8.4 percent from 2014 (3,261,000) to 2018 (3,534,000).
  • The number and rate of victims have fluctuated during the past 5 years. Comparing the national rounded number of victims from 2014 (675,000) to the national rounded number of victims in 2018 (678,000) shows an increase of 0.4 percent.
  • The 2018 data show more than four-fifths (84.5%) of victims suffer a single type of maltreatment. Sixty percent (60.8) are neglected only, 10.7 percent are physically abused only, and 7.0 percent are sexually abused only. More than 15 percent (15.5%) are victims of two or more maltreatment types.
  • For 2018, an estimated 1,770 children died of abuse and neglect at a rate of 2.39 per 100,000 children in the national population.[2] [bolding added for emphasis]

 

The above reads like a readout of stock market numbers. “Sixty percent (60.8) are neglected only” as if neglect were a trivial matter that is merely counted because they are told to. Nowhere in the annual Child Maltreatment reports are preventive measures, ideas to stop the increasing numbers, presented at all. It is an annual reporting of how little is being done to actually stop the crimes against children.

 

Exhibit 3–C Child Victimization Rates, 2014–2018
 

Year

 

Reporting States

 

Child Population of Reporting States

 

Victims from Reporting States

National Victimization Rate per 1,000

Children

 

Child Population of all

52 States

 

National Estimate/ Rounded Number of

Victims

2014 52 74,333,785 675,429 9.1 74,333,785 675,000
2015 52 74,351,670 683,221 9.2 74,351,670 683,000
2016 51 73,649,701 671,176 9.1 74,343,252 677,000
2017 52 74,234,537 673,756 9.1 74,234,537 674,000
2018 52 73,993,353 677,529 9.2 73,993,353 678,000
The number of victims is a unique count. The national victimization rate is calculated by dividing the number of victims from reporting states by the child population of reporting states and multiplying by 1,000.

If fewer than 52 states report data in a given year, the national estimate/rounded number of victims is calculated by multiplying the national victimization rate by the child population of all 52 states and dividing by 1,000. The result is rounded to the nearest 1,000. If 52 states report data in a given year, the number of rounded victims is calculated by taking the number of reported victims and rounding it to the nearest 1,000. Because of the rounding rule, the national estimate/rounded number could have fewer victims than the actual reported number of victims.[3]

 

Based on data from 52 states. See table 3–5. Percentages do not sum to 100.0 due to rounding. table 3–5. Percentages do not sum to 100.0 due to rounding.
Exhibit 3–D Victims by Age, 2018

3-D: Victims By Age
3-D: Victims By Age

[4]

As demonstrated with the above numbers and charts, there is little argument that the United States Child Welfare System has become unmanageable. CWS caseworkers have such large caseloads that they are not able to respond to every report of a suspected child abuse nor conduct frequent visitations to known abusive homes. Law enforcement are unable to intercede on behalf of an abused child due to restrictions placed on them by the Child Welfare System. When confronted by a frantic mother describing abuses done by the father against the children, judges often view the mother as being vindictive against the “innocent” father and award the child to their abuser and bar the non-offending parent any visitation rights. Some “graduates” from foster homes tell of the horrible abuses they suffered while they were there, claiming to be “warehoused” just for the money the government pays the foster care parent. There is often little opportunity for an abused child to be offered appropriate mental health counseling, with the apparent expectation that the family will provide the needed care or that children will “just grow out of it.” Legislators, when faced with complaints about the broken systems, often do not have answers or solutions.

 

Children’s Bureau

The United States Children’s Bureau is the federal agency charged with overseeing the Child Welfare Systems in the 50 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico (often referred to as the “52 states”). The mission of the Children’s Bureau:

 

Children’s Bureau Mission and Focus Areas

“To achieve our mission of promoting safe and stable families, the Children’s Bureau concentrates our efforts in eight distinct focus areas, including adoption, child abuse and neglect, child welfare, foster care, Child and Family Services Reviews, tribal programs, federal programs, and state programs.”[5]

The primary CWS focus areas for which there has been the greatest concern are “child abuse and neglect” and “foster care.” The Children’s Bureau defines its “child abuse and neglect” functions as:

“The Children’s Bureau supports programs, research, and monitoring systems that prevent child abuse and neglect while ensuring that children who are victims receive treatment and care. We provide funding to states and tribes to help them strengthen families and prevent child abuse and neglect. Our funding also provides for child abuse and neglect assessment, investigation, prosecution, and treatment activities.”[6] [Bolding added for emphasis]

Two of the major complaints of the Children’s Bureau “child abuse and neglect” focus area target the following aspects (see also bolded above):

  1. “prevent child abuse and neglect”: most arguments claim that there is very little “prevention” from child abuse and neglect; the Child Welfare System is “reactive” to abuse and neglect that have already occurred. This is reinforced by the annual collection of data of crimes against children and comparison of how much higher the stats are this year compared to the previous year – without any recommendations to change the perennial increase. There is no “prevention,” there is “reporting.”
  2. “ensuring that children who are victims receive treatment and care”: children making it through the Child Welfare System are not generally provided any “treatment” for the trauma they suffered. The trauma of such abuse and neglect during the child’s early formative years remain with them during the child/adult’s lifetime because it was not properly diagnosed and treated soon after the abuse and neglect occurred.

 

With respect to the “foster care” focus area, the Children’s Bureau states:

“Through the title IV-E Foster Care program, the Children’s Bureau supports states (plus the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico) provide board and care payments for eligible children who are under the supervision of the state and placed in foster family homes or childcare institutions that are safe and licensed.”[7] [Bolding for emphasis]

It may be viewed that the Foster Care System receives the majority of the complaints and issues of the entire Child Welfare System. Some examples include:

  1. “safe”: With a few notable exceptions, the majority of the foster care “graduates” report that their experience in foster care was anything but “safe.” Numerous reports and lawsuits have been filed regarding child abuse and neglect of children in the foster care system. These children were merely moved from one abusive environment (home) into another (foster care).
  2. Bias and racial profiling in the foster care system: Numerous reports have indicated that, proportionally, far more Children of Color are sent through the foster care system than White children. For example, in Oregon, 3-5 times the expected number of Children of Color, based on their representation in the total child population of Oregon, are placed into foster care – particularly Native Americans or Alaska Natives.[8]

 

Foster Care is arguably the most broken part of the Child Welfare System. Most Foster Care Homes have become warehouses where children are merely housed, and (hopefully) fed. Unreported abuses are rampant within some Foster Care Homes. Children “graduate” from the Foster Care System without any life skills knowledge. This is covered well in the 2020 Executive Order:

“Too many young people who are in our foster care system wait years before finding the permanency of family.  More than 400,000 children are currently in foster care.  Of those, more than 124,000 children are waiting for adoption, with nearly 6 out of 10 (58.4 percent) having already become legally eligible for adoption. …Even worse, too many young men and women age out of foster care having never found a permanent, stable family.  In recent years, approximately 20,000 young people have aged out of foster care each year in the United States.  Research has shown that young people who age out of the foster care system are likely to experience significant, and significantly increased, life challenges — 40 percent of such young people studied experienced homelessness; 50 percent were unemployed at age 24; 25 percent experienced post-traumatic stress disorder; and 71 percent became pregnant by age 21.  These are unacceptable outcomes.”[9] [bolding added for emphasis and readability]

 

Focus on the Child:

Inadequate mental health treatment of children who have been abused or neglected results in adults facing mental health issues and increased life challenges through no fault of their own. See the Introduction for examples of the effects of child abuse and neglect on their adult lives.

Early trauma treatment must become a standard part of the “Focus on the Child.”

 

References

[1] Executive Order on Strengthening the Child Welfare System for America’s Children, June 24, 2020

[2] U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, Administration on Children, Youth and Families, Children’s Bureau. (2020). Child Maltreatment 2018. Available from https://www.acf.hhs.gov/cb/research-data-technology/statistics-research/child-maltreatment.

[3] U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, Administration on Children, Youth and Families, Children’s Bureau. (2020). Child Maltreatment 2018. Available from https://www.acf.hhs.gov/cb/research-data-technology/statistics-research/child-maltreatment.

[4] Ibid.

[5] United States Child Bureau website, https://www.acf.hhs.gov/cb/focus-areas, accessed 8/1/2020

[6] United States Child Bureau website, https://www.acf.hhs.gov/cb/focus-areas, accessed 8/1/2020

[7] Ibid.

[8] Oregon Dept. of Human Services annual Data Books, 2009 through 2019.

[9] Executive Order on Strengthening the Child Welfare System for America’s Children, June 24, 2020

 

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To submit questions or comments, please email Jo@Jo-Calk.com. I welcome all input, ideas, and suggestions. Thank you for caring for children.

Blessings,

Jo Calk