Is There a Connection Between Poverty and Child Mistreatment?

Is There a Connection Between Poverty and Child Mistreatment?Correlation or Causation?

Many variables have been identified that correlate with child abuse and neglect. Poverty, in particular, has been linked to child mistreatment among a host of other conditions such as poor cognitive development, poor academic performance, and poor emotional regulation. In light of these linkages, some argue the connection between poverty and child mistreatment is an example of causation, not correlation. Such a finding would have long-lasting ramifications on the foster care system and policy regarding children, families, and poverty.

Connections between poverty and child mistreatment do exist, but poverty in and of itself does not cause child mistreatment, nor is poverty in and of itself considered the basis for child abuse or neglect. That being said, families in poverty cannot be discriminated against due to their financial standing, and it’s these families that could make the best use of the services New Jersey’s child welfare agency offers. The agency cannot take your child from you simply for being poor. But it’s important to understand that the agency might become involved in your child’s life if a report is made. In many cases, the agency will not remove the child from home but rather offer services and support to the parent so the parent can provide a safer home environment for the child.

Without a causal link, the connections found in studies can still illuminate the pressures families living below the poverty threshold are under and the challenges they face. Any parent—poor or not—would struggle if he or she were unable to meet a child’s needs because of real-life limitations such as work schedules, busy lives, and limited financial resources. But these limitations do not indicate child abuse or neglect. They simply point to the fact that families in poverty often face significant challenges in providing for their child and meeting his or her needs.

Poverty does not cause child mistreatment, nor does it necessarily point to it. Plenty of children in poverty are never mistreated, while many children in middle-class families are. Families in poverty, however, face unique struggles, which can make them more likely to be involved with CPS. You should speak with an attorney if you are being contacted by New Jersey’s child welfare agency (DCP&P). An attorney can explain the allegations against you and walk you step by step through the child welfare case process, from investigation to litigation.

If you have questions about a child welfare case, the Williams Law Group, LLC is here to help. The experienced attorneys at Williams Law Group, LLC can help you navigate your child welfare case and ensure your child’s best interests are protected. Located in Union, New Jersey, Williams Law Group, LLC provides compassionate and dedicated legal services to Union, Bergen, Essex, Hudson, Morris, Monmouth, and Middlesex counties, and the surrounding areas. Our knowledgeable attorneys handle divorce and family law, child custody, and child abuse/neglect cases. Call our office at (908) 810-1083, email us at, or contact us through our confidential online form to schedule a consultation and ultimately get you connected with an experienced New Jersey divorce and child custody attorney.


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