Children Continue to Need Protection and Care

Approximately 3.3 million allegations of child abuse and neglect involving 6 million children were made to CPS agencies in 2009.  

In 2009, an estimated 763,000 children were substantiated as victims of child maltreatment, a rate of 10.1 per 1,000 children in the US and Puerto Rico.

African American children, American Indian or Alaska Native children and children of multiple races had the highest rates of victimization at 15.1, 11.6 and 12.4 per 1,000 children, respectively. Hispanic children and White children had rates of 8.7 and 7.8 per 1,000 children, respectively. Asian children had the lowest rate of 2.0 per 1,000 children. Nearly one-half of all victims were White (44.0%), one-fifth (22.3%) were African American, and one-fifth (20.7%) were Hispanic.

The youngest children (from birth through age 4) were most likely to be determined to be maltreated compared to all other age groups.

An estimated 1,770 children nationally (compared to 1,720 children for FFY 2008) died from abuse or neglect. The rate per 100,000 children was 2.34 deaths for FFY 2009 compared to a rate of 2.28 for FFY 2008. Children 0–4 years old accounted for 80.8% of child fatalities. Children younger than 1 year old accounted for 46.2% of all child fatalities.

Violence often occurs against women and children in the same family. Research indicates that 50–70% of men who assault their female partners also abuse their children.

On September 30, 2009, there were 423,773 children in foster care. They spent a median of 15.4 months in foster care.

Of the children in foster care on September 30, 2009, 114,556 were waiting to be adopted. Only 57,466 children were adopted from the public foster care system in FY 2009.

States spent $25.7 billion in federal, state and local funds on child welfare programs in FY 2006. This is a 9% increase since FY 2004 after adjusting for inflation. Total spending has increased in each biennium since data have been collected (SFY 1996).

Federal and state funds increased, while local dollars remained stable. In SFY 2006, states spent $12.4 billion in federal dollars, $10.7 billion in state dollars and $2.6 billion in local dollars. Between SFY 2004 and SFY 2006, federal spending increased by 3%, state spending increased by 14%, and local spending remained virtually unchanged.

CASA/GAL Programs: Striving to Meet the Need

CASA/GAL volunteers make sure that the abuse and neglect that the children originally suffered at home does not continue as abuse and neglect at the hands of the system.

In 2010, the CASA/GAL network consisted of 955 local and state programs. Three-fourths (75%) of programs were nonprofits and 25% were public agencies.

In 2010, CASA/GAL programs had 75,087 volunteers donate over 5.8 million hours to making a lifelong difference in the lives of abused and neglected children. In that year, approximately 21,507 new volunteers were trained to help meet the need.

An estimated 240,164 children were served by CASA/GAL volunteers in 2010

Changes over the past five years in the number of CASA/GAL volunteers and children served:


CASA/GAL Volunteers

Children Served
















CASA/GAL Programs: High Quality Advocacy

Judges assign CASA/GAL volunteers to nearly half of the abuse and neglect cases before them. They express a great need for more volunteers for their cases.

Judges, attorneys, child welfare workers and parents overwhelmingly report that volunteers make a difference with the children they serve.

With a limited number of available volunteers, judges assign CASA/GAL volunteers to their most difficult and complex cases: those with prior maltreatment or contact with child welfare, cases of extreme neglect, physical or sexual abuse and other cases where children have a great level of risk.

CASA volunteers are far more likely than paid attorneys to visit children in their homes and more likely to investigate whether there are appropriate services for the child or family.

CASA volunteers are highly effective in getting their recommendations accepted in court, and their reports led to a higher number of services being ordered for children and families.

CASA/GAL Programs: Better Service to Children

Low caseloads for CASA volunteers mean the courts can make better decisions for children. They handle just one or two cases at a time so that they can give each child’s case the sustained, personal attention he or she deserves.

CASA volunteers are typically appointed to the more complex children’s cases—those where there are multiple risk factors which must be fully understood in order to make a placement decision that will be in the child’s best interests. These complex cases receive more attention so they can move forward in a timely way.

Children with CASA volunteers may receive more court-ordered services because of the volunteer’s detailed knowledge of the child’s circumstances. These services can be more carefully targeted so that service dollars are used more effectively.

CASA/GAL Programs: An Investment That Yields Huge Savings

Federal law requires that juvenile and family courts appoint a guardian ad litem, who may be an attorney or CASA/GAL volunteer, in all cases of child abuse and neglect.

By helping to reduce time spent unnecessarily in foster care, CASA programs can reduce child welfare costs. On September 30, 2008, an estimated 463,000 children were in foster care, at an estimated annual direct cost to Americans of $33 billion. If the median length of stay in foster care (18 months) were shortened for children in foster care by just one month, it would realize a savings of approximately $2.75 billion.

In 2010, CASA/GAL volunteers contributed more than 5.8 million hours of advocacy for children. If compensated to perform such a role, the total would be more than $300 million.

Children with a CASA volunteer are substantially less likely to spend time in long-term foster care, defined as more than three years in care: 13.3% for CASA cases versus 27.0% of all children in foster care.

Cases involving a CASA volunteer are more likely to be “permanently closed”, i.e., the children are less likely to reenter the child welfare system than cases where a CASA volunteer is not involved. Just 9% of CASA children reenter the system. This is in contract to 16% for children not served by a CASA volunteer.

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