Addressing Unaddressed Needs: Helping Agencies Target Services to Children and Caregivers in Child Welfare

Issue Brief
Publisher: Washington, DC: Mathematica Policy Research
Nov 30, 2016
Erin Maher, Elizabeth Weigensberg, Matthew Stagner, Jessica Nysenbaum, and Sarah LeBarron

Key Findings:

Among children who qualify for Medicaid based on receipt of child welfare services, roughly 55 percent have two or more chronic conditions.  Fifty-six percent of children ages 6 to 17 had developmental problems (including cognitive issues), but only 25 percent had an Individualized Education Program. For children ages 11 to 17, 52 percent were at risk for an emotional and behavioral problem, and 14 percent were at risk for a substance abuse problem. Only 24 percent of all children, however, received any behavioral health services in the past year Among parents whose children were living at home 18 months after a child welfare investigation in 2008 or 2009, 55 percent lived below the poverty level, 50 percent were on public health insurance, and 30 percent were uninsured. 20 percent of caregivers scored within the clinical range for major depression, and 31 percent needed mental health services.

Each year in the United States, hundreds of thousands of children are reported to the child welfare system for abuse or neglect. Despite contact with a child protection agency, many families struggle to obtain the right services to ensure a safe and nurturing environment for their children. This brief presents current data on these families’ health care needs and highlights areas for future research.

Superutilization of Child Welfare and Other Services


Casey Family Programs

Time Frame


Senior Staff

Matthew Stagner
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Elizabeth Weigensberg
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