A Key Connection: Economic Stability and Family Well-being

Addressing economic hardship as a factor in child welfare involvement    

NEW bulletin on role of TANF in Economic Stability and Family Well-Being and Child Safety

A growing body of evidence shows that families do better when they have access to concrete services and have economic stability. This makes providing economic and concrete supports an important component of preventing child abuse and neglect and reducing involvement with child welfare. Since families of color are disproportionately affected by poverty, these supports can serve as a strategy to reduce racial disproportionality in child welfare systems.  

Chapin Hall experts have brought together evidence about the connections between economic and concrete supports and involvement with child welfare. A brief that summarizes some of this research, System Transformation to Support Child and Family Well-being, is available here. The most comprehensive collection of this research is in the presentation developed by Clare Anderson, Yasmin Grewal-Kök, Dr. Gretchen Cusick, Dr. Dana Weiner and Dr. Krista Thomas. Download it and other resources below:  

Slide deck (updated March 2023)

1-pager about this research

Research reference list






Path to preventing child welfare involvement

Evidence-based service for child welfare prevention

Tool for state policy options to increase access to ECS






Bulletin on role of TANF in economic stability and family well-being and child safety








Key Findings About Economic & Concrete Supports and Family Well-being

Public Benefit Programs
Each additional $1,000 that states spend on public benefit programs annually per person living in poverty is associated with a 7.7% reduction in child fatalities due to maltreatment. Public benefits are also positively associated with reductions in foster placements (Puls, 2021).
Refundable EITC
States with state-level refundable EITC, compared to those without, had 11% fewer entries into foster care (even after controlling for poverty, race, education, and unemployment; Rostad, 2020).
Expanded Medicaid
Between 2013 and 2016, the rate of screened-in neglect referrals decreased in states that expanded Medicaid, but increased in states that did not expand Medicaid. If non-expansion states had expanded Medicaid, there would have been an estimated 124,981 fewer screened-in neglect referrals in the U.S. from 2014 through 2016 (Brown, 2019).

Subsidized Child Care
Waitlists to access subsidized child care are significantly associated with an increase in child abuse & neglect investigations (Klevens, 2015).

TANF & Full Child Support
Mothers who receive TANF and are eligible to receive full child support paid on behalf of their children (without a decrease in benefits) are 10% less likely to have a screened-in maltreatment report than mothers who are eligible to receive only partial child support payments (Cancian, 2013).

Minimum Wage Increase
Every $1 increase in the minimum wage is associated with a 9.6% reduction in neglect reports (Raissian, 2017).

These findings indicate that we can promote child and family well-being through state and federal policies that strengthen families, promote family economic security, and reduce child protective services involvement in the lives of families. Examples of state policy changes doing just this can be found in the presentation linked above. 

To work with us on applying this evidence at your agency or in your jurisdiction, contact Clare Anderson. Learn more about Chapin Hall’s approach to this work.

Suggested citation for slide deck:  

Anderson, C., Grewal-Kök, Y., Cusick, G., Weiner, D., & Thomas, K. (2021). Family and child well-being system: Economic and concrete supports as a core component. [Power Point slides]. Chapin Hall at the University of Chicago. [Updated March 2023] 

Presentation on This Work

On Nov. 8, 2022, Chapin Hall presented a webinar on the role of economic and concrete supports in preventing child welfare system involvement. Click the button below to watch the video.

Watch webinar on economic and concrete supports in child maltreatment prevention