Many of the United States’ most vulnerable children are served by the child welfare system, an integral part of how we care for children who have been hurt or neglected: In 2015, more than 3.3 million children were involved in a child protective services investigation or alternative intervention in response to reports of abuse. In this study, we set out to understand the narrative about the child welfare system as it is reflected in the news. We wondered: how is the child welfare system portrayed in news coverage? Is it mentioned only when the system fails? Who is held responsible for resolving problems in the child welfare system? How, if at all, does domestic violence appear? How do issues of race and gender appear in coverage? And perhaps most importantly, what could patterns in the coverage mean for practitioners around the country working to build and maintain stronger child welfare protections that address the needs of families experiencing domestic violence?
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The Child Welfare System in U.S. News: What’s Missing