CDC Study Shows Child Maltreatment Costs Billions

A new CDC study shows that the cost of child maltreatment is upward of $585 billion through the course of the victims’ lifetimes. This estimate is based on medical, child welfare, education, juvenile and criminal justice costs. In addition, many victims cannot reach their full potential as members of the workforce. Their loss in productivity factors in to the cost, too.

With such a high price to pay, it’s more important than ever to prevent and properly treat child abuse and neglect. According to the study’s authors, “the benefits of prevention will likely outweigh the costs for effective programs.”

Several ACF-funded programs are underway to lessen the impact of maltreatment. Investments in these areas follow recommendations from the study. Over time, they are expected to significantly reduce the lifetime expense. The study uses conservative estimates to calculate costs; the savings from ACF’s programs will likely be even greater than what the study reports.

To improve the long-term social and emotional well-being for those who have experienced maltreatment, ACF’s Administration on Children, Youth, and Families has invested in several programs:

  • The Quality Improvement Center on Early Childhood (QIC-EC) is a five-year program designed to gather new information about prevention and treatment. The program aims to gather best practices for proven strategies so that future treatment programs can be more effective.
  • The Community-Based Child Abuse Prevention (CBCAP) program supports state and local efforts to prevent child maltreatment before it happens. In 2010, CBCAP funds were used to provide child abuse prevention services to at risk children and families.
  • The Integrating Trauma-Informed and Trauma-Focused Practice in Child Protective Services Delivery supports five state and local grantees. Over the next five years, they will transform their child welfare systems, using proven methods to treat victims of abuse and neglect. 

Focusing on the use of proven methods for prevention and treatment, ACYF expects to reduce many of the future costs associated with maltreatment.

“What this study shows us is that child abuse and neglect don’t just affect the victims.  We all pay for it over time,” said George Sheldon, Acting Assistant Secretary of the Administration for Children and Families (ACF).  “At ACF, we are trying to make investments up-front to avoid paying more down the road. But most importantly, we are trying to ensure that every child in this country grows up safe, happy and healthy.”