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Child Protective Services: Linking Families to Needed Income Supports

Research Summary


Children in poor families are five time more likely to experience maltreatment than children in non-poor families. Not all families receive the economic supports available to them, yet research shows that providing income supports can reduce child maltreatment.

Key Findings

To learn how families with child maltreatment reports receive public safety-net program services over time, researchers examined the incidence of income support services immediately after a report and 18 months following. Data was taken from a national sample of children who had a maltreatment report investigated by Child Protective Services (CPS) within a 15-month period.

At the time of the child maltreatment report:

  • 44% of urban families said they were struggling to make it financially
  • 43% of rural families said they were struggling to make it financially
  • Approximately only one in ten children with a child maltreatment report lived in a household receiving income support

18 months later, families who did not receive safety net services at the time of the report and reported financial challenges:

  • 51% of rural families received income support
  • 38% of urban families received income support
  • Many families were still struggling and yet not receiving any benefits.

This study reveals that over time, CPS intervention may link individuals to needed services.

Put It Into Practice


Tips and tools to help you apply best practices at work.

The time of the maltreatment report is a critical point at which families need to be linked to supports to help ensure the safety and well-being of children. It is important that policies be monitored and assessed to ensure that children who experience maltreatment have access to adequate resources.

More About This Research

Families who are struggling to make ends meet financially need support. A substantial number of caregivers do not receive any of the income supports available. Children living in families with financial struggles are more likely to become victims of child maltreatment; specifically, 83% of children in rural and urban locations. This study explored how anti-poverty services can lead to reduced child maltreatment.

Learn More

Walsh, W.A. and Mattingly, M.J. Child Protective Services May Link Families to Needed Income Supports (National Issue Brief #83). University of New Hampshire, Durham, NH: Carsey School of Public Policy.