Myth of Child Safety as Priority
The mission of government child protection programs is to ensure child safety, permanency, and well-being.
In practice agencies often prioritize safety, giving well-being and permanency less attention.
However these three goals form a single integrated process that can’t be divided. For example when safety oriented programs delay removing children from abusive situations until there is no other choice, children experience trauma for long periods with serious impacts on their physical and cognitive development, mental health, and behavior. If they go to an out of home placement they often have behavioral issues, which frequently lead to failed placements and sometimes ends in institutionalization.
Instead, programs should integrate these goals by providing preventive and early intervention services. Then fewer families become involved in child protection, children’s outcomes improve, and costs go down.
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