New Report: Family-Friendly Business Policies Help Lower Child Abuse, Neglect Rates


Prevent Child Abuse North Carolina report shows policies that promote economic security, like paid leave, lower child abuse, neglect rates

By Melea Rose-Waters, Policy Director for Prevent Child Abuse North Carolina

As parents have stepped back from work to care for children, loved ones, and themselves during the pandemic, economic stress has been exacerbated. Many families have experienced severe and persistent stress during the pandemic—isolation, sickness, uncertainty, financial worries, job insecurity—and all of these can overload our ability to manage emotions.

This helps to explain why child abuse and neglect rates have historically increased during recessions. But we also know that reducing family economic burdens and adding supports can make a huge difference, quickly.

Family-friendly workplace policies improve the balance between work and family while ensuring family economic security. A new report from Prevent Child Abuse NC—Economic Supports Can Prevent Child Abuse and Neglect—highlights policies that promote family economic security, such as paid family and medical leave.

Child maltreatment is preventable with strategic policies that enhance the well-being and resiliency of families, helping to prevent abuse and neglect from happening, according to the report. And recent studies show that providing various economic supports to families can significantly reduce involvement with child welfare, reduce the number of children entering foster care, and offer significant savings in federal, state, and county budgets—while resulting in positive outcomes for children’s health, safety, educational attainment, and workforce preparedness.

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, parents were struggling to balance work responsibilities and caring for their families. Forty percent of parents nationwide have left a job because it lacked the flexibility they needed to meet the demands of their job and the needs of their families. Now, well into the pandemic, we are starting to see the ripple effect of caregiving duties—which mostly fall onto women—as more than 2.3 million women have left their jobs, with female participation in the labor force plummeting to levels not seen since 1988.

Increasing the number of family-friendly workplaces across North Carolina will help prevent abuse and neglect. Fortunately, in North Carolina, employers and employees say they already support family-friendly policies.

  • 75% of employers in North Carolina think family-friendly policies have a positive impact on their organizations.
  • 73% of employees in NC would be more committed to their employer if they offered more family-friendly practices.
  • 94% of NC employees say that family-friendly policies help businesses recruit and retain high quality employees and keep companies strong.

Additionally, businesses are losing out by not supporting parents. In addition to giving workplaces a competitive edge, family-friendly employers benefit from reduced employee health care costs, a healthier work environment, and fewer employee absences. Paid family leave increases labor force participation, particularly among women, and states that have implemented paid family leave policies have seen that access to paid family leave has increased the likelihood of workers returning to work after a leave has ended.

Employers have the opportunity to support families and children and simultaneously attract and retain top talent through family-friendly workplace policies. To read the full Prevent Child Abuse North Carolina report, click here. To learn more about how you can incorporate family-friendly policies into your business strategy, check out the Family Forward NC Guide to Family Forward Workplaces.