Dr. Kristine E. Nelson (1943–2012) was a nationally recognized child welfare historian and scholar, as well as a social work educator and administrator. Her early work in child welfare and a deep commitment to social justice informed her scholarship, research, and leadership. Her research focused on family preservation and community-based child welfare practice, with a focus on families entering the child welfare system due to neglect or poverty-related challenges. She was a significant contributor to advancing new frameworks of child welfare practice and had a successful career as a social work educator and administrator, retiring as Dean of the Portland State University School of Social Work in 2011.
Katharine Cahn and Nocona Pewewardy
Mark E. Courtney
Child welfare services in the United States evolved from voluntary “child saving” efforts in the 19th century into a system of largely government-funded interventions aimed at identifying and protecting children from maltreatment, preserving the integrity of families that come to the attention of child welfare authorities, and finding permanent homes for children who cannot safely remain with their families. Since the 1970s, the federal government has played an increasing role in funding and creating the policy framework for child welfare practice. That child welfare services are disproportionately directed toward members of ethnic and racial minorities has been an enduring concern.
John Joseph Kelso (March 31, 1864–September 30, 1935) was a young journalist when he became involved in child welfare in his adopted home of Toronto. He was instrumental in the passage of the first child protection legislation in Canada, and in spreading the need for voluntary children’s aid societies across Ontario and for similar legislation across Canada. He became superintendent of child welfare in 1893 and remained in that post for 40 years, shaping the development of the child welfare system in Ontario and Canada.
Susan J. Wells and Geoff Johnson
The true extent of child abuse and neglect is unknown but reports to state agencies indicate over 3 million reports concerning maltreatment of over 6 million children are made each year. Confirmed reports involved over 679,000 children in 2013. Yet, only 32% of the children known to be harmed by maltreatment in the community are investigated by child protective services. The perplexing dilemma in surveillance and service delivery is how to identify those who need help without spuriously including those who do not. This entry focuses on the definition of maltreatment and provides an overview of the history, etiology, and consequences of child abuse and neglect as well as the current trends and dilemmas in the field. To afford some perspective for the reader, some international data and information are provided.