Creating a Child-Friendly Child Welfare System: The Use and Misuse of Research

Elizabeth Bartholet

Harvard Law School


This article, a revised speech, contends that what we call the child welfare system is skewed in an adult-rights direction, and is often quite hostile to child interests. The field is characterized by an unusual amount of social science research, which should be helpful in guiding policy. However that research is similarly skewed in an adult-rights direction. This is largely because the same entities fund the research as fund policy advocacy, and they have promoted research designed to validate the kinds of family preservation policies they favor, policies that are often inconsistent with child best interests. We need to develop new mechanisms to fund the kind of truly independent research that would illuminate the child-best-interest issues, and enable policy-makers to design a truly child-friendly child welfare system.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 19

Keywords: child welfare, child friendly welfare system

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Date posted: June 20, 2013 ; Last revised: May 7, 2014

Suggested Citation

Bartholet, Elizabeth, Creating a Child-Friendly Child Welfare System: The Use and Misuse of Research (2014). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2282037 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2282037

Contact Information

Elizabeth Bartholet (Contact Author)
Harvard Law School ( email )
Hauser Hall 422
1563 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States
(617) 495-3128 (Phone)
(617) 496-4947 (Fax)

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