County Approves Project To Prevent Child Abuse And Neglect

The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved a $4.75 million demonstration project that will test innovative approaches to preventing child abuse and neglect. The 12-month Prevention Initiative Demonstration Project is the result of a joint motion by Supervisors Don Knabe and Zev Yaroslavsky.

The goal of the project is to test a broad spectrum of services, resources and activities across diverse communities within the County and evaluate their impact on preventing child abuse and maltreatment. One key element of the project will focus on addressing the broader root causes within communities that weaken families and impede healthy childhood development – such as social isolation, lack of economic opportunities and a little or no access to municipal services.

The results will then be used to consider enhancements to what the County currently does to assist families in crisis, and inform strategies about how to work proactively to keep families out of crisis. A recent study by the Pew Charitable Trust found that only 10 percent of the $7 billion in federal money distributed annually to state child welfare programs can be used for prevention programs. If the County can prove this approach works, it could be the first step in changing that.

This groundbreaking project, which is the first of its kind in the country, is about helping families address problems before a crisis occurs, said Supervisor Knabe. All the research shows that keeping families together, when it can be done safely, is better for the children and more cost-effective than foster care. It is my hope that this project shows, once and for all, that prevention-type activities are a viable and effective way of keeping families from entering, re-entering, or experiencing extended involvement in the child welfare system.