Improving Child Welfare Outcomes

Balancing Investments in Prevention and Treatment

Withdrawn pending further review.
RAND researchers built a quantitative model that simulated how children enter and move through the nation's child welfare system. They then used the model to project how different policy options (prevention services, family preservation efforts, kinship care efforts, and a policy package that combined prevention services and kinship care) would affect a child's pathway through the system, costs, and outcomes in early adulthood. Our findings indicated that striking a better balance between programs to prevent child maltreatment and services for those who have already suffered from abuse could improve long-term outcomes for children while also significantly reducing child welfare system costs in the United States.

However, in the wake of the release of our findings on May 23, 2017, we received some feedback from the wider child welfare research community about several of the inputs used in our model — specifically those related to lifetime rates of child maltreatment and resulting engagement with the child welfare system. We are currently evaluating how altering our assumptions to reflect higher lifetime rates would affect the policy scenario results. Based on preliminary modeling, we don't think the results will change materially. But RAND's commitment to accuracy and quality compel us to take these concerns seriously, so we have withdrawn the report and will publish a revised and updated version as soon as possible.

This report is part of the RAND Corporation research report series. RAND reports present research findings and objective analysis that address the challenges facing the public and private sectors. All RAND reports undergo rigorous peer review to ensure high standards for research quality and objectivity.

The RAND Corporation is a nonprofit institution that helps improve policy and decisionmaking through research and analysis. RAND's publications do not necessarily reflect the opinions of its research clients and sponsors.