Universal Services: The Foundation for Effective Prevention

  • Deborah DaroEmail author
  • Cara Karter
Part of the Child Maltreatment book series (MALT, volume 9)


Universal services play an important role in defining and shaping public health efforts in multiple domains. In the area of child protection, however, preference has been given to developing interventions which target support to parents who have failed in their parenting responsibilities or who demonstrate high levels of risk. Despite increased investments in this approach, a singular reliance on targeted interventions and reactive child protection policies have not reduced the prevalence of poor outcomes for children living in the most disadvantaged circumstances. This chapter argues that doing better with these most challenged families requires the development of a universal base of preventive services available for all families. By recognizing the universal needs of all children and the universal challenges caretakers and communities face in addressing these needs, a public health response which includes assistance to all families can maximize the impacts of more focused efforts. This universal option is not about giving everyone a new entitlement; it is about raising awareness around our collective responsibility for child protection and ensuring all families are provided access to the level of support they require. The chapter outlines the rationale for this approach and suggests specific best practice standards to guide the development of a more effective child protection policy, one which builds on a universal foundation of support for all new parents.


Child protection Family support Home visitation Maltreatment prevention Standardized assessments Targeted Universal strategies 


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Senior Research Fellow, Chapin HallUniversity of ChicagoChicagoUSA
  2. 2.Chapin HallUniversity of ChicagoChicagoUSA

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