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Child Abuse and Neglect Cost Nation over $100 Billion per Year; Most Federal Child Welfare Funds Unavailable for Prevention Services and Programs
Date:1/29/2008

New Report Stresses the Need for More Federal Dollars to Prevent Child

Abuse and Neglect

ATLANTA, Jan. 29 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- An economic impact analysis released today estimates the costs of child abuse and neglect to society were nearly $104 billion last year, and a companion report highlights the unavailability of federal child welfare funding for programs and services shown to be effective at reducing incidences of child abuse and neglect.

Total Estimated Cost of Child Abuse and Neglect in the United States, by Prevent Child Abuse America (PCAA) and Time for Reform: Preventing Child Abuse and Neglect, by Kids Are Waiting (KAW), a project of The Pew Charitable Trusts, show that while the economic costs associated with child abuse and neglect rose to a staggering $103.8 billion in 2007, merely ten percent of federal money dedicated for child welfare, approximately $741.9 million, can currently be used to prevent child abuse and neglect from occurring by strengthening families.

The PCAA report documents pervasive and long-lasting effects of child abuse on children, their families, and society as a whole. The $103.8 billion cost of child abuse and neglect includes more than $33 billion in direct costs for foster care services, hospitalization, mental health treatment, and law enforcement. Indirect costs of over $70 billion include loss of productivity, as well as expenditures related to chronic health problems, special education, and the criminal justice system.

The KAW report finds that the current federal child welfare financing structure does not adequately fund services and supports that could help keep more children safely with their families. The report shows that the majority of dedicated federal funding for child welfare is currently reserved for placing and maintaining children in foster care and cannot be used for prevention or reunification services or programs.

In Georgia, the ratio of federal dollars that are restricted to use for foster care and adoption to those dollars that are unrestricted and may be used for family support, preservation and reunification is 3 to 1. In Georgia and nationally it is neglect, not abuse, which accounts for the majority of children's entries into foster care. In 2005, of the more than 10,800 Georgia children who entered foster care, 65% were removed from their families for reasons of neglect and housing problems. Conditions that lead to child neglect are preventable if addressed early within families and communities.

"Prevention of child abuse and neglect makes sense," said Doug Middleton, Prevent Child Abuse (PCA) Georgia's CEO. "Investments in programs that strengthen families and prevent abuse and neglect will decrease both the short and long-term costs to society that are associated with child abuse. Georgia has proven prevention programs in place in communities, but limited funding means that these programs are available to very few families. Instead, we must wait until a situation deteriorates and harm occurs before services begin."

States may access dollars under Title IV-E, the principal source of federal child welfare funding, only after children have been removed from their home and enter foster care. Of the $7.2 billion federal funds dedicated for child welfare in 2007, approximately 90 percent supported children in foster care placements ($4.5 billion) and children adopted from foster care ($2.0 billion).

The report recommends specific policy options to keep children safe and strengthen families:

-- Ensure a sufficient, flexible and reliable federal resource to help

support the continuum of services needed by at-risk children and

families.

-- Reward states for safely reducing the number of children in foster care

and achieving all forms of permanence.

-- Make all abused and neglected children eligible for federal foster care

support.

The KAW report shows that nationally, most children (54%) who leave foster care reunite with their families; however states vary widely in this percentage. In 2005, Georgia ranked among the middle 20 states, with 48% of children in foster care leaving to reunification. Increased flexibility for funds to be used for early intervention that enables children to remain in their homes while services are provided and before harm occurs will decrease the trauma and cost of removal and placement into foster care.

To learn more about the PCA America report, visit http://www.preventchildabuse.org.

For more information about the KAW report, see http://www.kidsarewaiting.org.

Prevent Child Abuse (PCA) Georgia is a statewide non-profit organization dedicated to preventing child abuse.

For more information about strengthening families and preventing child abuse, please call our HELPLINE at 1-800-CHILDREN (244-5373), a confidential resource for information, support and referrals in your community available from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., Monday through Friday, or visit our Web site at http://www.pcageorgia.com


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SOURCE Prevent Child Abuse Georgia
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