Abuse, Neglect, Adoption & Foster Care

The child welfare research portfolio includes research on children who are maltreated or who are at risk for child maltreatment; children and families who come to the attention of child protective services; and children and families who are receiving child welfare services either in their families of origin or in substitute care settings. OPRE partners with the Children’s Bureau to conduct research covering a broad array of topics, including identification of antecedents and consequences of child maltreatment, strategies for prevention of maltreatment, and service needs and service outcomes for children who come to the attention of child welfare.

Explore the ACF Research & Evaluation Agenda Child Welfare Snapshot

Featured Resources

Projects on this Topic

OPRE's Behavioral Interventions to Advance Self-Sufficiency-Next Generation (BIAS-NG) project continues ACF’s exploration of the application of behavioral science to the programs and target populations of ACF.

This project supports the Office of Planning, Research, and Evaluation (OPRE) in the Administration for Children and Families (ACF), U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, in its work with the Children’s Bureau to advance the evidence around collaborative approaches to preventing child abuse and neglect...

Phase I (2013-2017)

Phase I of this project (YARH-1) provided evaluation-related technical assistance to organizations awarded planning grants for the development of interventions for youth with child welfare involvement who are most likely to experience homelessness. Key project tasks included providing technical assistance on use of data required to inform planning activities and on the development of evaluation plans; conducting evaluability assessments; and conducting a process evaluation of grantees’ planning processes and outcomes.

The Child Maltreatment Incidence Data Linkages (CMI Data Linkages) project aims to explore how innovative administrative data linkages can improve our understanding of child maltreatment incidence and related risk and protective factors. CMI Data Linkages, which began in fall 2017, identified 5 sites using linked administrative data to examine child maltreatment incidence and related risk and protective factors.

This project is a partnership between the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation (ASPE) and the Office of Planning, Research, and Evaluation (OPRE). It is funded by the Patient Centered Outcomes Trust Fund. A contract to support this work will be awarded in September 2019.

HHS will work with two to four states...

OPRE’s child and family development work includes research and evaluation projects primarily concerned with child care and child welfare. This portfolio additionally examines the culturally diverse experiences of children and families served by ACF programs.

The primary goal is to create a State Child Abuse and Neglect (SCAN) Policies Database that allows researchers and policy analysts to link to other data sources to address important questions about how variations in these definitions and policies are associated with child welfare intake, screening practices, substantiation decisions, service provision, and ultimately child safety and well-being.

Explore findings from OPRE's descriptive study about the range of child welfare services and benefits provided through the Unaccompanied Refugee Minors (URM) Program.

This project will help the Administration for Children and Families’ (ACF) Children’s Bureau to identify and better assist children and youth served by its programs who are victims of, or are at risk of, domestic human trafficking. The project will summarize current understanding of human trafficking and resources addressing human trafficking in the child welfare population.

The Expanding Evidence on Recovery and Reunification Interventions for families project is identifying promising interventions that use recovery coaches and assessing feasibility of replicating and evaluating those interventions.

The Fathers and Continuous Learning project is testing the use of a continuous learning methodology, the Breakthrough Series Collaborative, to increase father and paternal relative engagement in the child welfare system.

The National Survey of Child and Adolescent Well-Being (NSCAW) is a nationally representative, longitudinal survey of children and families who have been the subjects of investigation by Child Protective Services. There have been two cohorts of children enrolled in the survey, which makes available data drawn from first-hand reports from children, parents, and other caregivers, as well as reports from caseworkers, teachers, and data from administrative records.

The John H. Chafee Foster Care Program for Successful Transition to Adulthood (Chafee program; formerly the John H. Chafee Foster Care Independence Program) was created following the passage of the Foster Care Independence Act (FCIA) of 1999 (Public Law 106-169). The program provides assistance to help youth currently and formerly in foster care achieve self-sufficiency by providing grants to States and eligible Tribes that submit an approvable plan.

In 2013, OPRE commissioned four interrelated reports on self-regulation and toxic stress from a team at the Center for Child and Social Policy at Duke University. That team and other experts have since created multiple practice-oriented resources grounded in the initial reports. Together, these reports and resources comprise the ’Self-Regulation and Toxic Stress Series.’ 

The Title IV-E Prevention Services Clearinghouse was established by the Administration for Children and Families (ACF) within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to systematically review research on programs and services intended to provide enhanced support to children and families and prevent foster care placements. The Clearinghouse, developed in accordance with the Family First Prevention Services Act of 2018, will rate programs and services as promising, supported, and well-supported practices. These practices will include mental health and substance abuse prevention and treatment services and in-home parent skill-based programs, as well as kinship navigator services.

Explore the Touchpoints for Addressing Substance Use In Home Visiting page for a conceptual model and review of the literature on how home visiting programs can support families dealing with substance use issues.

Explore tools and resources developed for Tribal TANF Child Welfare Coordination Grantees.

This project will support the Office of Planning, Research, and Evaluation (OPRE) and the Children’s Bureau (CB) in the Administration for Children and Families (ACF) in developing design options for a study or group of studies to better understand 1) judicial decision-making during the life of a child welfare case as well as the quality of child welfare court proceedings, 2) the factors associated with decision-making and hearing quality, and 3) the influence that decision-making and hearing quality may have on case planning and outcomes such as parent engagement in services and children’s permanency outcomes.

For children in foster care, adoption and guardianship represent two important permanency outcomes. However, a finalized adoption or guardianship does not necessarily indicate that a child will experience long-term stability or have a permanent home. Instability may be formal (where a child re-enters foster care) or informal (where a child lives temporarily with another family member). 

Child Welfare Systems' Responses to Children of Color was funded to review research examining the child welfare system's response to children of color, to identify programs and practices that address perceived racial or cultural disparities...

The Office of Community Services which had administrative responsibility for the Compassion Capital Fund (CCF)Program partnered with OPRE to conduct evaluations of two of the grant programs supported through the CCF: the Demonstration Program and...

Hurricane Katrina was perhaps the largest single natural disaster in America’s history. Millions of people were on the hurricane’s path. About half a million people in New Orleans were displaced by floods caused by Hurricane Katrina...

ACF’s Hispanic Research Work Group brings together experts in a wide range of content areas relevant to ACF’s mission to assist ACF/OPRE in identifying research priorities concerning low-income, Hispanic families.

Explore findings on families experiencing homelessness that cover a range of domains: behavioral health, well-being, self-sufficiency, family separations, foster care, employment, family transitions, TANF receipt, SNAP receipt, and more.

The purpose of the Implementation of Promoting Safe and Stable Families (PSSF) by American Indian Tribes study was to examine the ways in which Indian Tribes use funds received under title IV-B, subpart 2 to provide services that strengthen...

The Children’s Bureau in the Administration for Children and Families has contracted with the Urban Institute and its partners—the Chapin Hall Center for Children at the University of Chicago and the National Opinion Research Center...

The purpose of the National Evaluation of Family Support Programs was to understand the effects of family support on families and children. A central task of the evaluation was to synthesize and analyze the body of research on family support, to answer...

In collaboration with the Children’s Bureau, the Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation is conducting the Fourth National Incidence Study of Child Abuse and Neglect (NIS-4). The National Incidence Studies have been conducted approximately once each decade, beginning in 1974, in response to requirements of the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act.

The Permanency Innovations Initiative (PII) is a multi-site federal demonstration project designed to improve permanency outcomes among children in foster care who have the most serious barriers to permanency. This initiative supports six grantees, each with a unique intervention designed to help a specific subgroup of children leave foster care in fewer than three years.

OPRE, supported by a contract with Mathematica and the Williams Institute, in coordination with the HHS Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation (ASPE), conducted extensive work to identify knowledge gaps and propose research recommendations related to the human service needs of low-income and at-risk lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender populations...

The National Survey on Child and Adolescent Well-Being (NSCAW) provides longitudinal data from multiple informants on the functioning, well-being, and services provided to a national probability sample of children and families who come into contact...

The Office of Planning, Research, and Evaluation (OPRE) is undertaking a descriptive study to document the approaches and strategies utilized by tribal organizations awarded cooperative agreements under the Coordination of Tribal TANF and Child Welfare...

Effect sizes are increasingly applied to describe the magnitude of findings about program effectiveness across a range of policy contexts. Though more researchers are recognizing the importance of including effect sizes in manuscripts, at times these...