In April 2017, SPARC released Child Welfare Primer: A Guide for Advocates, Policymakers, and Others Interested in Child Welfare Policy Reform.

Although the child welfare field has made significant strides over the past few decades, advocates, policy makers, and other leaders across the country continue to push for new reforms to lead to better outcomes for families and children in the child welfare system or at risk of entering the system. This primer provides a comprehensive overview of the basics of the system for those who are new to the field. It will be updated regularly.

This primer:

  • Provides an overview of the federal child welfare system; including key funding streams, data systems, and statutes; and describes the varying ways in which state child welfare systems are structured.
  • Provides an overview of key trends in the field.
  • Lists key advocates and other organizations working on the child welfare continuum.
  • Provides some key resources available for those who want to dig deeper into child welfare issues.
  • Lists key terms used in the child welfare field.