Child Well-Being as Human Capital
This paper explores how the general principles of child development intersect with the emerging interest in child well-being as an outcome for children who come in contact with the child welfare system.
Drawing on the idea of trajectories within the life course perspective, the author also borrows on the notion of human capital. Well-being is similar to the idea of human capital in that it embeds multiple dimensions, such as education, physical health, and behavioral health, into a single construct. It is quite clear from the available data that developmental processes influence the risk of (and response to) maltreatment, placement into foster care, and permanency. It is equally clear that child welfare careers start at all points along the developmental trajectory, with many more careers starting during the earliest stages of development. Services, as a protective factor, have to be designed with this broader context in mind, to offset the risk factors and their relative effects on development, given the developmental stage.