Each state’s child welfare agency has a unique array of policies and practices for identifying and responding to child maltreatment. As a result, a family living in one state will experience the child welfare system in a different way than a family with the same set of circumstances living in a different state. Therefore, in studying child welfare, it is important to go beyond national statistics—which can mask state-level differences—in developing recommended policy and program responses. High-quality state-level data can help policymakers, practitioners, researchers, and other child welfare stakeholders answer important questions about the children and families served in each state and how policies, programs, and practices can best meet their needs.
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