Over the past 20 years, neglect has been the most pervasive form of child maltreatment in the United States, affecting more than half a million children annually. Further, neglect is more likely than other forms of maltreatment to occur repeatedly within child welfare-involved families. Children experiencing neglect, especially early in childhood and with regularity, face long-term deleterious effects on their physical, cognitive, social, and emotional development. Despite the ubiquity of neglect throughout child welfare and the potentially devastating consequences, interventions designed to target families chronically reported to Child Protective Services (CPS) for neglect are scant. The Family Asset Builder intervention asserts that a strengths-based, supportive model of service delivery is essential to break the cycle of neglect early along the continuum of CPS involvement for families. Informed by current theory and practice, the solution-focused intervention offers intensive case management services (including more frequent contact and extended service delivery duration) to families with a history of neglect. Early in 2011, the Family Asset Builder intervention was piloted in two Minnesota counties; this study evaluates the development of the model, lessons learned from implementation, and early findings from the intervention, all of which set the stage for replication of the model and expansion of practice knowledge around chronic neglect.

Key Take Away Points

  • Neglect is pervasive, and chronic neglect is a serious problem with deleterious social, economic, and developmental consequences for children.
  • Few interventions have been developed that specifically address repeat child welfare agency involvement among families due to neglect.
  • An intervention development approach can be used to build a knowledge base around the successful application of new interventions.


We would like to thank Debra Gilmore, previously Child Protection Reform Manager at the American Humane Association, for her contributions to the development of the Family Asset Builder model. We would also like to thank the Family Asset Builder staff and supervisors for sharing their insights about the intervention model for the purposes of the evaluation. Special thanks to John Fluke, also previously with American Humane Association, and Peter Pecora at Casey Family Programs for contributions to the conceptualization of this project. Finally, we would like to acknowledge both counties’ willingness, foresight, and leadership in taking on this innovative pilot project.