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Benefits of early care and education for children in the child welfare system

Young children birth through five years old in the United States are more likely to experience child maltreatment, subsequent child welfare system (CWS) involvement, negative developmental outcomes, and serious maltreatment-related injuries and death than older children. This research-to-practice brief provides a model for how early care and education (ECE) services can benefit this vulnerable age group by exploring emerging evidence from social science research on the effects of ECE on the CWS's goals of: (1) child safety, (2) permanency, and (3) wellbeing. The brief determines that the bulk of existing research indicates that at least some types of ECE services can help the CWS achieve its child safety and well-being goals. However, the vast majority of young children in the CWS are not utilizing ECE services despite these apparent benefits. Additional research is needed to understand the specific pathways through which ECE influences child welfare outcomes, the effects of ECE on the CWS's permanency goal, and which types of ECE arrangements are most beneficial for children in the CWS. The brief concludes by discussing several organizational practices that child welfare administrators can use to build collaborations with local ECE service providers in order to increase the enrollment of CWS-supervised-children in ECE programs. (author abstract)
Resource Type:
Fact Sheets & Briefs
United States

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