Analysis of state definitions of child neglect

Casey Family Programs conducted a 50-state review and analysis of definitions of child abuse and neglect found in state statutes. The purpose of the review was to identify definitions and explore whether they may contribute to an overly wide “front door” to Child Protective Services (CPS), leading to unnecessary intrusion into families’ lives and heightening the risk of unnecessary placement of children in foster care.

Based on our review, it is apparent that state definitions of neglect vary widely from one another and from the federal definition. Accordingly, there is cause for concern that neglect definitions may be contributing to unnecessary CPS interventions.


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