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Center for Advanced Studies in Child Welfare

Center for Advanced Studies in Child Welfare

Early Childhood and Child Welfare: An Important Collaboration

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Our next summer topic is on the youngest of children involved in child welfare, those aged 0-5 years. We chose to focus on this topic not only because of the attention early childhood experiences has been getting lately from state and federal legislators (e.g. U.S. Senator Al Franken, MN Representative Nora Slawik, and MN Senator Geoff Michel) (and governors!), but also because of recently released statistics showing increased rates of maltreatment for children aged 0-5. This is an important issue particularly since these years are the formative years for brain development, and abuse and neglect has been shown to have adverse effects on children's development. This first post will give readers a basic understanding of the statistics and potential outcomes for young children experiencing abuse and neglect.

The Stats

Child Trends released a brief called Young and Vulnerable: Children Five and Under Experience High Maltreatment Rates that highlights the importance of policies aimed to prevent child abuse and neglect at young ages, assist vulnerable families, and provide early care, education, and intervention services. The following statistics are from this report:

  • Kids aged 0-5 have a higher rate of victimization than older kids
    (12.4 victims/1,000 kids vs. 7.6 victims/1,000 during Federal Fiscal Year [FFY] 2009)
  • Kids aged birth to 1 year had a victimization rate of almost 21 victims/1,000 for FFY 2009
  • Kids aged 0-5 more likely to experience neglect
    (79.3% vs. 66.8% for other ages, FFY 2009)
  • Kids aged 0-5 are more likely to experience death due to maltreatment than older kids
    (87% of child maltreatment deaths in FFY 2009, with 46% under 1 year of age)

Potential Effects on Child Victims

Research has shown that the occurrence of abuse and neglect during infancy and toddlerhood has very detrimental effects on development (see Child Trends report and Zero to Three's Maltreatment webpage). These include poor physical health (e.g. shaken baby syndrome and high blood pressure), neurodevelopment impacts such as over-vigilance and impulsivity, poor developmental outcomes (e.g. speech delays, smaller brain sizes, and lack of basic problem-solving skills), poor educational outcomes caused by lack of self-regulation and early communication skills, increased likelihood for special education placement, and poor emotional and social outcomes (e.g. lack of trust, inability to develop healthy relationships, depression, overly dependent or rebellious, and social withdrawal).

Policy Implications

These outcomes are preventable through effective policies and programs; in order to create these policies, policymakers need access to this type of information. The next few posts will cover Minnesota's current legislation, proposed legislation that failed, promising practices as seen in other states, and of course, other issues that come up throughout the month. If you would like to learn more about a certain aspect of this topic, please do not hesitate to leave a comment below.

Resources for More Information
America's Children: Key National Indicators of Well-Being, 2011
Zero To Three Website

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