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Income-related Factors in Definitions of Child Maltreatment

May 18, 2022

May 18th, 1:00 to 2:00 pm CDT (on Zoom)

CEUs available for social work: $10 for 1 credit hour

Lecturer: Sarah Catherine Williams, MSW (Research Scientist, Child Trends)

Short description of the lecture: Families that experience poverty-related stressors such as income insecurity or loss, material hardship, and housing hardship or instability are also more likely to come into contact with the child welfare system. The intersection of poverty and economic insecurity with neglect poses a challenge to child welfare agencies when they respond to reports of maltreatment. Of all maltreatment types, neglect is particularly difficult to identify and define because it involves the omission—rather than the commission—of actions that can harm children. Untangling whether a child’s unmet needs are due to poverty or to some other factor is difficult, which begs the question: To what degree do child welfare agencies include income-related factors in their definitions of child maltreatment? The answer is different in every state. The current lecture will discuss differences in state definitions of maltreatment and the inclusion of income-related factors, as well as the implications for the inclusion of such factors in definitions of maltreatment.

Lecture’s Bio: Sarah Catherine Williams works in the Child Welfare program area at Child Trends, a non-profit research organization in the Washington DC area that conducts high quality research to improve the lives of children, youth, and their families. She has over a decade of experience with program evaluation and is skilled in both quantitative and qualitative data analysis, as well as analyzing AFCARS, NCANDS, and state-level administrative child welfare data related to maltreatment, permanency, and placement stability. Her research experience and interests include: the intersection of poverty and child maltreatment; child welfare financing; opioid abuse and its impact on children and the foster care system; kinship caregiving; relative search and engagement techniques for children in foster care; diligent recruitment of foster and adoptive parents; child welfare court advocacy practices; unaccompanied refugee minors; and refugee resettlement services. Before starting her career in research, she was a special education teacher in Atlanta, GA and a Peace Corps Volunteer in Nicaragua.


Target Population:

General professional audience

Number of Sessions:



On Zoom

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