NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Child Abuse Fell As Welfare Clients Were Required To Work

August 10, 2000

Four years ago, opponents of welfare reform raised the specter of increasing social ills if beneficiaries were forced to work. But those dire warnings didn't pan out, studies have shown. In fact, the results have almost invariably been beneficial -- not least to those formerly on the dole.

One of the dire warnings heard then was that the foster care system would be flooded by a new wave of abused children. It didn't happen.

  • Confirmed cases of child abuse and neglect have actually fallen since 1996, according to two studies.
  • Federal statistics show that confirmed cases of mistreatment of children fell from 1,019,000 in 1993 to 903,000 in 1998.
  • One study reports that the number of children entering foster care has been stable or falling slightly in recent years -- with 3.3 children out of every 1,000 entering foster care in 1999, compared to 3.87 in 1994.

The studies were undertaken by the Urban Institute and the Chapin Hall Center for Children at the University of Chicago. Those involved in both studies caution that the results are preliminary and more data will become available over time.

Source: Somini Sengupta, "No Rise in Child Abuse Seen in Welfare Shift," New York Times, August 10, 2000.

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