U.S. Child Welfare System Redesign – Preface

United States Child Welfare System Redesign

Strategic Action Plan


These webpages are a work in progress. They are open to the public to encourage comments, ideas, and improvements.

Next Page



“Children are the world’s most valuable resource and its best hope for the future.”

– John F. Kennedy


This Strategic Action Plan is a labor of love dedicated to the survivors of child abuse and neglect, those who didn’t survive their childhood, and the current victims of child abuse and neglect, with the hope, dream, and plan for a country free of child abuse and neglect.

To put the “welfare of the child” back into the Child Welfare System, we must first understand that the effects of child abuse and neglect don’t “go away” like bruises or broken bones. Child abuse reshapes the child’s brain, self-view, and worldview.

Focus on the child, not just removing the child from the abusive situation, but healing the child with appropriate therapy and other services before the abuse and trauma make physical changes in the child’s brain and sense of self.

The effects of child abuse remain as the child becomes an adult, forming a set of mental illnesses, such as:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Constant fear
  • Anger – expressed or unexpressed
  • PTSD
  • Complex PTSD
  • Lack of trust
  • Lack of self-esteem
  • Lack of self-worth
  • Lack of value
  • Compliant
  • Focus on others at the expense of self
  • Dissociative Identity Disorder
  • Belief that the world is violent, unforgiving, and against them
  • Belief they are bad
  • Belief they were born bad
  • Belief they are not lovable
  • Belief they are being punished by God or the universe
  • Codependent
  • Choosing violent partners who continue the pattern of violence from childhood
  • Belief that violence equals love
  • Belief they deserve to be beaten
  • Belief that abuse is their lot in life
  • Suicidal ideations
  • Suicide attempts
  • Failing at suicide, which deepens their despair, hopelessness, helplessness, and reinforces that they can’t do anything right
  • Self-punishment
  • Cutting
  • Belief in living a life of pain
  • Desperately trying to be good, to please others
  • “People Pleasing Disease” – Oprah Winfrey
  • Want to make others happy so they can finally be happy
  • Projection of self-hatred as coming from others
  • Treating the child within as they were treated as a child
  • Desperate to be loved but not knowing what love is
  • Hypervigilant
  • Startle response
  • Constant stress
  • Hypoglycemia
  • Weight gain
  • Physical changes in the brain

One child doesn’t necessarily suffer from all the above conditions, but any one or more of these conditions, plus other conditions not listed above, may affect survivors of child abuse and neglect, each in their own unique way.

Every one of the above conditions defined my life for 63 years.

It has only been 10 years since I received the help I needed to turn my life around and really start living.

The Child Welfare System in the United States has an opportunity to stop the long-term effects of child abuse by therapeutically treating the child’s trauma soon after the abuse or neglect starts. That is true “Child Welfare.”

Jo Calk, Survivor of Familial Child Sexual Abuse, Child Physical Abuse, and Neglect; Advocate for Child Abuse and Neglect Victims and Survivors

Next Page