Promising Practices to Address the Developmental Needs of Young Maltreated Children in Contact with the U.S. Child Welfare System

Upbring is a social services agency based in Texas whose mission is to empower communities to improve long-term outcomes for the state’s children. To this end, the agency has committed to funding research for a series of white papers from various research teams, a few of which we have posted in the past (see here, here, here and here).

The latest white paper released is a collaboration between Mini Moses, M.S.W. and Michelle Johnson-Motoyama, Ph.D. from the University of Kansas School of Social Welfare, and Patrick Shannon, Ph.D. from the University of New Hampshire Department of Social Work. Their work explores how to approach developmental needs of children ages 0 to 3 who have had contact with the U.S. child welfare system.

Screen Shot 2016-04-26 at 9.53.19 AMAccording to the paper, this young age group is “at increased risk for developmental delays and impairments.” Policies put into place in 2003-2004 promoted early intervention in such cases, but surveys and research since have illustrated that very few children have received access to these interventionist programs. According the the paper’s executive summary, “the purpose of this national survey of administrators and other key stakeholders in early intervention and child welfare services was to identify promising practices in interagency collaboration to meet these mandates.” The paper examines these findings, and discusses implications for policy and practice moving forward.  

Figure 1 outlines some of the promising practices revealed by the nationwide survey, which include an improvement in training, staffing, data systems and cross-collaborative practices. These fell under several themes, identified as a focus on young children, information sharing and collaborative structures (Figure 2). The paper recognizes that all of these practices are still a work in progress, and an increased focus on collaboration between child welfare and early intervention providers is “crucial” for improving the status quo.

Screen Shot 2016-04-26 at 9.53.37 AM“The duty,” reads the conclusion, “of improving services for children with developmental delays and/or disabilities who have experienced abuse and neglect transcends both systems and requires collaboration and coordination from professionals across service delivery systems and, ultimately, the development of an integrated intervention model.”

For more information or to read the white paper in its entirety, please click here.

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Lisa Martine Jenkins
About Lisa Martine Jenkins 38 Articles
Lisa is the marketing coordinator for The Chronicle of Social Change and a recent graduate of University of California-Berkeley. Find her at or on Twitter @lisa_m_jenkins.