Digging Deep

Historical Context of Child Welfare Systems

Posted June 15, 2018
By the Annie E. Casey Foundation
Get the Full Report:
Download Report
AECF Digging Deep 2018 cover


This guide reviews 400 years of child welfare and juvenile justice systems in the United States.

It is part of the Equity Conversation Guides For Young Leaders and Partners series developed by the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s Jim Casey Youth Opportunities Initiative. This four-part series aims to help leaders engage young people in conversations about dismantling racism in child-serving systems and ultimately partner with these youth to advance equity and inclusion solutions.


To supplement this guide, four large posters (2x3 feet) are available for use during data walks, an activity in which people review the same set of data and discuss. The posters also can be printed on 11x17-inch paper (review your printer's settings for scaling documents to fit). Each poster reviews events through the centuries: 1600–1700s, 1800s, 1900s and 2000s.

Findings & Stats

Statements & Quotations

Key Takeaway

Not a history expert? Not a problem

This guide equips leaders with step-by-step instructions and materials aimed at helping young people explore — through the lens of race and ethnicity — how America’s child welfare and juvenile justice systems have evolved over time.