Child Abuse Registries Harm Families and Exacerbate Child Poverty
Model Child Abuse Registry Legislation
Across the country, child abuse registries inflict lifelong harm on parents and caregivers with minimal oversight or due process. Families living in poverty and families of color are disproportionately likely to experience the harms of the registry, and because child abuse registries severely limit employment opportunities for parents and caregivers, registries drive and exacerbate child and family poverty. Should a national registry be included in CAPTA, UFA proposes several changes to mitigate the harm to children and families.
"Blocking off the ability of parents and caregivers to access employment in high-growth fields only serves to hurt the very children the child abuse registry is supposed to protect in the first place. The child abuse registry thus exacerbates child poverty and places vulnerable families in even more precarious circumstances."
Community Legal Services of Philadelphia releases a report on the child abuse registry in Pennsylvania with four major recommendations for reform. They note that "while the goal of protecting children from abuse is laudable, the child abuse registry has gone too far in serving as an employment screening tool that prevents loving parents and caregivers from being able to financially support their children. As we look toward economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, it is more urgent than ever to reform the child abuse registry system in Pennsylvania to ensure that low-wage workers are not unnecessarily excluded from desperately needed employment."
"While the intent to track maltreatment and protect children is noble, the implementation of central registries has caused undue harm to many individuals. Parents can find their names listed in an official government database of child abusers prior to or even without a court ruling that they actually committed the alleged maltreatment. Individuals in Texas who have been wrongly identified in the registry and want to challenge their inclusion face an uphill battle navigating a complex bureaucratic process that rarely provides them with the opportunity to have their case reviewed by a neutral arbiter. These flaws are far from benign consequences and create longterm social and economic hardships for those wrongfully listed, as well as for those whose contact with the child welfare system was a result of conditions of poverty."
"Virtually every social worker knows about the core role of state central registries in the child welfare system. Less well known is how the very registries that protect children can also threaten the economic security of their families and, in so doing, undermine child safety."