1. States with more generous SNAP policies had decreased number of reported child maltreatment.
2. States with more generous SNAP policies had decreased number of foster care placements.
Evidence Rating Level: 2 (Good)
In the US, approximately one third of children experience a Child Protective Service (CPS) investigation for potential mistreatment before the age of 18. Public assistance policies such as Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP) may help prevent child maltreatment by improving household resources among low income families. However, whether differences in SNAP policy play a role in child maltreatment has not been directly examined.
This prospective cohort study examined the association between generosity of state policies on SNAP with level of CPS involvement and foster care placement across all 50 states and the District of Columbia from 2004 to 2016. Generosity was measured by adoption of policies that improved or stabilized household resources for SNAP participants. The main outcome measured was reports of child maltreatment in CPS and children receiving foster care services. Statistical analysis was performed using a 2-way fixed-effects regression model..
This study found that states that adopted SNAP income generosity policy options had lower rates of CPS and foster care outcomes for all forms of child maltreatment and specifically for neglect even after controlling for important variables. However, the study was limited due the fact that the authors could not access all the policy and administrative options that states implemented during the study period. Nonetheless, the results of this study helped to provide initial evidence for further studies that examine how policies targeting food insecurity help play a role in the complex systems that impact child maltreatment.
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