Concerns for the welfare of a child's safety and well-being should be reported to the child welfare agency in the state/county where the alleged maltreatment may be occurring. Child Welfare Information Gateway, a service of the Children's Bureau, maintains a state-specific listing of child abuse and neglect reporting numbers.
There are more than 400,000 children and youth in our nation's foster care system, and each year over 20,000 age out. As youth get ready to transition to adult life, they may face significant challenges in accessing the resources they need to become self-sufficient. Federal law requires that child welfare agencies assist youth in developing personalized transition plans that address specific topics such as education, housing, employment, finances, physical and mental health, health insurance, mentoring, and close relationships with supportive adults. A transition plan should start early and be broken into short-term, age-appropriate, and manageable goals in alignment with a youth's individual needs, hopes, and strengths.
Individuals and families involved with the child welfare system and juvenile and family courts often need and benefit from legal representation; however, navigating the judicial system and retaining the services of an attorney can be confusing and costly. There are many resources available to individuals who may be unable to afford legal representation.
Associations and organizations throughout the United States work to promote the safety, well-being, and permanency of families by empowering parents to be engaged in family life through education, support, advocacy, and outreach activities.
Prevention services are crucial in helping families meet their needs and offer a wide variety of support for families caring for their children. As prevention encompasses a broad array of services and interventions for families, the following resources are specialized for children and families who are at risk of being involved within the public child welfare system.
Most state laws, policies, and regulations require districts and schools to implement a bullying policy and procedures to investigate and respond to bullying when it occurs. Stopbullying.gov provides information on state antibullying laws and policies.
If you are worried that a friend may be abused or neglected, please contact Childhelp, a national organization with a 24-hour crisis hotline number (1.800.422.4453). Childhelp's staff consists of trained counselors that can listen to your concerns and connect you to the appropriate local child protection agency or other helpful services in your community. Childhelp now offers text and chat-based support for reporting suspected child abuse or neglect.
Parental substance use is generally recognized as a risk factor for child maltreatment; however, it is difficult to obtain precise, current statistics on the number of families affected by substance use issues in the absence of an ongoing, standardized, national data collection on the topic.
Children can be victims of sex and/or labor trafficking. Under the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act of 2000, child sex trafficking is defined as "the act of recruiting, harboring, transporting, providing, obtaining, patronizing, soliciting a child for commercial sex, including prostitution and the production of child pornography." Child labor trafficking refers to "the act of recruiting, harboring, transporting, providing, obtaining a child for labor or services, through the use of force, fraud, or coercion for the purposes of subjection to involuntary servitude, peonage, debt bondage, or slavery." Child trafficking is a crime under federal, international, and state law.