The impacts of welfare reform on child maltreatment in Delaware

David J. Fein, Wang S. Lee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

56 Citations (Scopus)


In this study, we analyze the effects of Delaware's welfare reform program on child maltreatment using child protective services data and an experimental design. The sample includes 2,138 single-parent cases that were subject to Delaware's welfare reform and 1,821 randomly assigned cases that initially were not subject to welfare reform. Results show small increases in child neglect but no effects on physical abuse, sexual abuse, or foster care placement. The most consistent impacts on neglect appear in subgroups with pre-existing disadvantages, such as a previous history of child maltreatment, long-term welfare receipt, and low education. In descriptive analyses, we find that the risk of neglect increases in the months preceding a case closure due to financial sanctions and then declines in subsequent months.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)83-111
Number of pages29
JournalChildren and Youth Services Review
Issue number1-2
Publication statusPublished - 2003
Externally publishedYes

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