The relationship between poverty and child welfare involvement is clear. Texas must change the current, broad definition of neglect to include clear and precise language to protect families from being punished for their economic disadvantage.

Key points:

  • The majority of children who enter foster care enter due to allegations of neglect, and 75% of the victims of child maltreatment in Texas were victims of neglect only.
  • Neglect has an overly broad definition that leaves room for families struggling to meet their basic needs to be unnecessarily involved in the child welfare system due to economic circumstances.
  • Previous research found that families in poverty are more likely to become subjects of child maltreatment reports, whether substantiated or otherwise.
  • Texas county-level data suggest there is a statistically significant relationship between child poverty and allegations of neglectful supervision.
  • Texas must amend the definition of neglect to allow CPS to focus on children in imminent and immediate risk of harm and protect families from being punished for experiencing poverty.