Kids who are neglected may be better off remaining with their families with additional support than put into foster care.
By David Tobis May 29, 2013
We all make mistakes while parenting. We try to be a friend rather than a parent, or we are too strict when comfort is needed. We sometimes scold or hit when exasperation takes over, or we are negligent when depression creeps in. Imagine what our parenting would be like without resources to fall back on — like money, family, friends and connections — and what might be revealed if our lives were constantly scrutinized in public housing, in public hospitals, in public child care and at our child’s public school.
This is the situation for many low-income parents, often single mothers of color, whose children come to the attention of the child-welfare system. Granted, there are horrible situations of abuse, but those are relatively infrequent cases. A recent study in California of all children born there in 1999 found that by the age of 7, 19.8% of them had been reported to the state central registry. That is a strikingly high number, but research from 2011 shows that children nationwide are found to have been abused or neglected in only 18.5% of reported cases. A great majority of cases involve neglect, not abuse — for example by leaving a child home alone, not making sure a child attends school or not having adequate housing.
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