April is Child Abuse Prevention Month
The best way to keep New York’s children safe and foster their overall well-being is to prevent child abuse and neglect. Research has shown unmet mental health needs, substance use disorders, financial distress, lack of social support, and other factors contribute to abuse and neglect.3 Recognizing that risk factors associated with maltreatment are societal, parental, and child-related, interventions need to address all of these domains.
We have tools proven to prevent child maltreatment. Maternal, infant and early childhood home visiting—where trained professionals partner with families to strengthen parenting skills, and connect families with community resources—is one of those tools. Home visiting has been shown to reduce child abuse and neglect by up to 50%,4, 5 while also improving child health outcomes6 and school readiness.7 Notwithstanding home visiting’s proven record of strengthening families, the State has consistently appropriated only enough funds to make home visiting available to a small fraction of new and expecting New York State families with young children who would benefit from this service. In 2014, there were fewer than 12,000 opportunities available in evidence-based home visiting programs for New York families, while there were more than 330,000 New York children under age five living in poverty who might have benefited from this type of service.8 This year’s State budget reduced funding for home visiting programs, compared to last year, meaning that it will be hard for programs to maintain present caseloads, let alone expand services to the tens of thousands of families currently unserved. At the same time, funding for preventive and protective care of children remained flat-funded.
We are confident that New York can do better. We have the tools. It will take a focused commitment of resources together with a deep understanding of the challenges. The Schuyler Center is committed to working with partners from around the state to protect and improve the well-being of all New York’s children.
For more information and recommendations regarding child welfare in New York State, read Schuyler Center’s Hopeful Futures for New York’s Children: Advancing Child Welfare.
President and CEO
- Children’s Bureau. CFSR Round 3 Statewide Data Indicators – Workbook. Amended May 2015. Retrieved from: https://training. cfsrportal.org/resources/3105#Data Indicators and National Standards. The data set includes data from all states except MO, PA, PR, TN and VA, which was excluded due to “quality of data.”
- Children’s Bureau. CFSR Round 3 Statewide Data Indicators – Workbook. Amended May 2015. Retrieved from: https://training. cfsrportal.org/resources/3105#Data Indicators and National Standards. The data set includes data from all states except FL, NC, PR and WV, which was excluded due to “quality of data.”
- For a review of literature related to each of these topics, see the Child Welfare Information Gateway: Factors that Contribute to Child Abuse and Neglect.
- Reanalysis of Kitzman et al. (1997). Journal of the American Medical Association; 278(8):644-52
- Dumont, K., Kirkland, K., Mitchell-Herzfeld, S., Ehrhard-Dietzel, S., Rodriguez, M., Lee, E., Layne, C., & Greene, R. (2010). Final Report: A Randomized Trial of Healthy Families New York: Does Home Visiting Prevent Child Maltreatment?
- Lee, E, Mitchell-Herzfeld, S., Lowenfels, A., Greene, R., Dorabawila, V., & DuMont, K. (2009). Reducing low birth weight through home visitation: a randomized controlled trial; American Journal of Preventive Medicine; 36, 154-60.
- Drotar, D., Robinson, J., Jeavons, I., & Kirchner, H.L. (2009). A randomized controlled evaluation of early intervention: The Born to Learn curriculum. Child: Care, Health & Development, 35(5), 643-643.
- Kids Count Data Center. Children in Poverty by Age Group: New York. 2014 data.