A report released Tuesday shows that child abuse and neglect cost Alabama approximately $3.7 billion in 2018, a $1.5 billion increase from 2015.
The Alabama Department of Child Abuse and Neglect Prevention study, conducted by The University of Alabama College of Human Environmental Sciences and The University of Alabama Center for Business and Economic Research, updates a 2015 study, showing the impact child abuse has not only on the lives it directly impacts but on the state’s budget.
“No one can dispute the devastating toll child maltreatment has on the physical and emotional health of children and families in Alabama. By documenting its substantial financial impact on our state, this report shines a light on how far-reaching the issue is and how the prevention of child abuse and neglect should be a priority for us all,’’ said Stuart Usdan, dean of The University of Alabama College of Human Environmental Sciences, in a statement.
More than 10,000 children In Alabama are victims of child abuse and neglect each year, and in 2018 there were 43 child deaths from abuse and neglect, a 43 percent increase from 2013, the report states.
“The cost of child maltreatment to Alabama is staggering. This report reinforces the stance that we must do more to prevent child abuse and neglect before it can occur,” said Sallye Longshore, director of the Department of Child Abuse and Neglect Prevention, in a statement.
The report notes that the $3.7 billion cost includes $281 million to the child welfare system, $4 million for adult homelessness, $21 million for special education and $26 million for juvenile delinquency.
“This study indicates the State of Alabama must invest more in preventing child maltreatment because prevention will reduce its cost on the state economy and contribute to economic growth by expanding the workforce and its productivity. About 73 percent of the $3.7 billion cost is due to lost productivity caused by child maltreatment,” said Samuel Addy, associate dean for research and outreach in The University of Alabama Culverhouse College of Business.
The report notes that the estimated cost is conservative, and only includes costs associated with first-time child maltreatment, and does not include the cost to families and communities.