Two women smiling and looking at a child

Preventing Child Abuse & Neglect

For communities working to prevent violence, strategies that focus on creating the context for healthy children and families can mitigate the risk factors associated with child abuse and neglect while increasing community and family resilience. These strategies from CDC’s child abuse and neglect Resource for Action may include

  • Strengthening economic supports to families
  • Changing social norms to support parents and positive parenting
  • Providing quality care and education early in life
  • Enhancing parenting skills to promote healthy child development
  • Intervening to lessen harms and prevent future risk

Policymakers may find that a multipronged strategy that targets the different conditions in which children and their families live, work, and play is effective in reducing child abuse and neglect. Affordable housing, universal preschool or pre-kindergarten (universal pre-K), and the earned income tax credit (EITC) are all policies that, by targeting upstream issues, may reduce the likelihood of child abuse and neglect. Implementing these strategies can help to mitigate systemic racism that limits opportunities for children to grow up in healthy, violence-free environments.



Communities are working to improve access to affordable, quality, and safe housing through a variety of policies, all of which may also strengthen economic supports to families. The policies and best practices that local and state governments are using are varied and integrate additional social and economic supports, through partnerships and other means, as part of their affordable housing policies. The examples from Kansas City, Missouri, and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, explore some ways that affordable housing efforts may complement work to reduce the likelihood of child abuse and neglect.

Learn More About Affordable Housing
School table


Communities with high-quality universal pre-K programs are taking steps to provide stability and educational enrichment to children and their families. These early childhood educational interventions—a core strategy for reducing the likelihood of child abuse and neglect—can also support parents financially and socially by connecting families to needed services, providing opportunities for vocational and parenting training, and creating a nurturing environment for children, regardless of income level. The examples from Florida and Oklahoma illustrate key implementation strategies these communities have used to create and improve universal pre-K programs.

Learn more about Universal Pre-K


Earned income tax credits, or EITCs, are a direct form of income support that the government provides to alleviate poverty and strengthen household financial security. As a strategy for violence prevention, income supports can reduce family stress and the instability associated with having unmet basic needs. The examples highlight efforts in Iowa and California to increase uptake of EITC.

Learn more about Earned Income Tax Credit

The examples above were developed with input from key government, academic, nonprofit, and community stakeholders, as well as a review of recent research spotlighting best practices. By showcasing real-world examples of policies that use core strategies for violence prevention, these examples offer state and community leaders, government agencies, and community organizations potential strategies to improve the health and well-being of their communities.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recognizes ChangeLab Solutions for their assistance in developing the Policy in Action for Preventing Child Abuse and Neglect content.

Published Date: July 22, 2019; Last Reviewed: Sept 15, 2023

Source: National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, Division of Violence Prevention