Child Welfare Survey Report

A Survey of State Child Welfare Policies and Initiatives

States Can Improve Supports For Infants And Toddlers Who Are In Or At Risk Of Entering Foster Care: 2019 Report

To understand the policies and services already in place for infants and toddlers in care and at risk of entering care, as well as where the child welfare field can leverage opportunities, Child Trends fielded the 2019 Survey of Child Welfare Agency Policies and Practices for Infants and Toddlers in, or who are Candidates for, Foster Care. The survey, supported by ZERO TO THREE and the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), aimed to understand the current array of policies and practices intended to serve this population, and how this array may have shifted since the initial fielding of the survey in 2013. By collecting and sharing such information, we hope to support agencies in strengthening their approaches to serving this population.

Three overarching themes emerged from the survey:

  • State policies and practices for maltreated infants and toddlers and their families have not changed significantly since the 2013 survey was administered.
  • Despite areas of strength, fewer states have implemented policies or practices to support candidates for foster care as compared to children in care.
  • State child welfare policies and practices could better address the unique developmental needs of infants and toddlers.

Changing the Course for Infants and Toddlers: 2013 Report

The initial report by ZERO TO THREE and Child Trends presents findings from our 2013 survey of state child welfare agencies about the policies and practices that guide their work in addressing the needs of infants and toddlers who have been maltreated. It sets the stage for understanding how states are currently supporting young children and where opportunities exist to expand supports.

Three broad themes emerged from the survey:

  • Few states have policies that differentiate services or timelines for infants and toddlers from those for older children.
  • Relatively few states have implemented promising approaches to meeting the unique developmental needs of infants and toddlers.
  • Given growing awareness about the needs of very young children stemming from neuroscience and child development research, child welfare agencies have a long way to go in aligning policies and practices to ensure that the unique needs of infants and toddlers are met.

The 2013 Report

Download the Full Report, Executive Summary, and an Index of State Initiatives.

Companion Pieces

Three short companion pieces from ZERO TO THREE and Child Trends offer highlights from the survey and recommendations for state action.

To learn more about the steps that can be taken to address the needs of maltreated infants and toddlers and their families, and how a developmental approach can be embedded into child welfare practice, download these related resources.