Investment in child welfare systems and abuse prevention can help keep children out of the so-called “prison pipeline,” according to a new report from the non-profit Justice Policy Institute.
Researchers studied the child welfare system in Washington D.C., which removes children from their homes at higher rates than other similar cities. The report argues that while children who are subjected to abuse should be removed from their homes, “policies and resources should acknowledge that the majority of cases that lead to referrals and out of home placements may be better served by alternatives that emphasize in-home services, community supports and stability, all of which can serve to reduce future justice system contact.”
Nearly all of the children supervised by Washington, D.C.'s child welfare and juvenile justice agencies are black, according to the report, and most come from the city's poorest Wards.
Despite the correlation between involvement in child welfare and involvement in juvenile justice, budget cuts reduced funding to the city's Children and Family Services Agency by $1.2 million in 2012.
The report recommends: expanding child maltreatment prevention efforts; prioritizing educational support and stability; enabling access to mental health prevention and treatment for youth and their families, and providing employment opportunities to youth.
Read the report HERE.