Although the goals of safety and permanency for children continue as critically important mandates in child protection, the field has witnessed an increased focus on child well-being in recent years. Whereas safety and permanency have been well operationalized, child well-being appears to be a much more complex and daunting concept to define and measure. Current federal guidelines require child protective agencies to improve outcomes in the area of child well-being, and although federal regulations offer some direction on interpreting this concept, the definition and operationalization remain vague. As leaders in the field have attempted to provide language by which to talk about and measure child well-being, a number of key frameworks have emerged. In this paper, we present a conceptual map that provides a visual overlay of these existing frameworks that can help guide child protection policy-makers, administrators, and practitioners toward a fuller understanding of the complexities of child well-being. While this conversation on child well-being is not new, this paper aims to add to the national discussion and deepen the understanding and conceptualization of child wellbeing within the context of child protection.
- Child protection
- Defining child well-being
- Strengthening child well-being