Update: The story below described a new funding opportunity announced in late January by the Biden administration that would have established a single national partner to help child protection systems better differentiate between the circumstances of poverty and the “willful neglect” of children.
This month, Youth Services Insider has learned that the grant was cancelled. We asked the Administration for Children and Families (ACF), and their response suggests that this plan was hatched with some excess funds in mind that turned out not to exist.
“Upon further examination of funding levels for the 2023 federal fiscal year, the Children’s Bureau at the Administration for Children and Families determined funding was not available for this particular project,” ACF said, in an unsigned email. That is slightly different than what was posted in the grant cancellation, which was that “federal funds are no longer available” for the grant.
It is unclear to YSI from those two statements whether the grant was simply crafted with the erroneous assumption there was money for it, or if a decision was made to allocate the funds designated for this grant to something else. See below for our original story describing the grant.
New funding available through the Administration for Children and Families is looking for a single partner to help educate child abuse hotline workers and mandated reporters on distinguishing between poverty-related concerns and “willful neglect.”
The grant is intended to help build a national campaign teaching strategies to support families and address child safety concerns without involving the child welfare system.
“There has been a growing national awareness and interest in encouraging mandated reporters to become “mandated supporters,” the notice announcing the funding opportunity states. “This funding will support building a national messaging campaign on how individuals can become a source of support to families in their community by acknowledging the impact of racial inequities and seeking solutions that can help mitigate child safety concerns before they rise to the level of crisis.”
Children’s Bureau data shows that 60% of maltreatment determinations stem from neglect without abuse. And while the federal government defines neglect in its annual Child Maltreatment reports as withholding basic necessities from a child when financially able to provide, many state laws do not exempt poverty-based deficiencies from their definitions of neglect. Nor does the Child Abuse Prevention and Maltreatment Act, which fails to define the specific term and described abuse and neglect cumulatively as “at a minimum, any recent act or failure to act on the part of a parent or caretaker, which results in death, serious physical or emotional harm, sexual abuse or exploitation…or an act or failure to act which presents an imminent risk of serious harm.”
This can lead to child protection workers intervening before material support that could stabilize the family is offered, particularly among communities of color that are disproportionately impacted by economic and housing insecurity. To that end, this funding opportunity lists the following goals:
- Develop and disseminate best practices for child abuse hotlines on differentiating willful neglect from poverty;
- Reduce unnecessary child welfare hotline reports by finding new ways to respond to poverty-related concerns with links to material supports;
- Create a national messaging campaign to shift mandated reporters’ perspectives to offering support with a focus on racial equity.
Organizations requesting funding are expected to create clear and precise definitions differentiating poverty and willful neglect, operational procedures for assessing neglect, and protocols for training and supporting hotline staff to reach the project’s outlined goals. Grant recipients will be required to conduct an evaluation and generate outcome data illustrating the project’s impact.
One grant of $5-10 million over five years will be awarded.
In addition to state and local government systems, this funding is available to school districts and higher education institutions, nonprofits, tribes and businesses. Applications are due on March 13.
Note: This article was updated on January 27.