How Can Hotline Data Help Child Protection Agencies Better Support Families?

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, families endured constant and increased levels of stressors, such as job loss, illness, lack of social support, and inadequate childcare. Often, families are reported to child protection hotlines not because their children are at imminent risk of harm, but rather because of poverty-related issues such as a family’s lack of access to safe housing and other community services that support raising a child. These types of referrals to child protective services may result in an over-surveillance of families, which can compound the stresses inside the home. This report examines how hotline data are collected, analyzed, and used to put greater focus on identifying and addressing community-level causes of family stress and instability, rather than focusing primarily on child- and family-level factors.

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