Using Benefit-Cost Analysis to Assess Child Abuse Prevention and Intervention Programs

By Plotnick, Robert D.; Deppman, Laurie | Child Welfare, May/June 1999 | Go to article overview

Using Benefit-Cost Analysis to Assess Child Abuse Prevention and Intervention Programs


Plotnick, Robert D., Deppman, Laurie, Child Welfare


Benefits and costs are discussed when child abuse prevention and intervention programs are proposed and evaluated, but systemic benefit-cost analysis as developed by economists has not been applied to such programs. This article presents the case for using benefitcost analysis to structure evaluations of child abuse prevention and intervention programs. It presents the basic concept of benefit-cost analysis, its application in the context of assessing these types of child welfare programs, and limitations on its application to social service programs.

Benefit-cost analysis has become a widely applied, but often controversial and misunderstood, tool of program evaluation. Initially used to assess the economic soundness of infrastructure projects such as dams and highways, it is now routinely applied in evaluations of a broad range of public policies, including environmental and occupational safety and health regulations [Cropper & Oates 1992], health and mental health interventions [Ginsberg & Shouval 1992; Keeler & Cretin 1987; Weisbrod 1981], and a variety of human resources programs, such as early education [Schweinhart et al. 1993], family planning services [Levey et al. 1988], job training [Kemper et al.1983; Long et al.1981; Orr et al.1996], alcohol and drug abuse [Rundell et al.1991; Hubbard & French 1991; Plotnick et al. in press], vocational rehabilitation [Lewis et al.1992], HIV testing [Gelles 1993], and welfare-to-work programs [Gueron & Pauly 1991].

When child abuse prevention and intervention programs are proposed and evaluated, their costs and the various benefits they may produce are discussed [Daro 1988; Panel on Research on Child Abuse and Neglect 1993]. Systematic benefit-cost analysis, however, has not been applied in assessing such programs. A survey of the child welfare literature covering 1990-1995 uncovered no benefit-cost analyses of child abuse prevention or intervention programs. One comprehensive study [Daro 1988], drawing on research from the 1970s and 1980s, briefly critiques benefit-cost methods and summarizes potential benefits of effective interventions, but does not cite any actual benefit-cost analyses of specific interventions produced during these years. The comprehensive National Research Council report, Understanding Child Abuse and Neglect [Panel on Research on Child Abuse and Neglect 1993] does not mention the term, though it does include a short discussion of some of the economic benefits of reducing child maltreatment [pp. 39-40]. The report, as well work by Daro [1988] and Vondra [1993], also points out the contributions to improving interventions that can be made by cost-effectiveness studies, which are closely related to benefit-cost studies, and Daro [1988] discusses two major cost-effectiveness studies from the 1970s and 1980s.

This article argues that benefit-cost analysis can and should be used to help structure evaluations of the impact of child abuse prevention and intervention programs, and, in general, any program aimed at promoting child welfare. It presents the basic ideas of benefit-cost analysis and of cost-effectiveness analysis, a closely related tool. These include the concepts of economic benefits and costs; the identification, measurement, projection, and discounting of benefits and costs likely to arise in child abuse prevention and intervention programs; the incorporation of equity effects; and how costs and benefits differ depending on whether they are assessed by participants, nonparticipants, or society as a whole. For expositional simplicity, the article discusses the issues in terms of child abuse, although the analysis and arguments also apply to programs to treat or prevent child neglect.1

Applications of benefit-cost analysis to human services programs generally analyze efforts to remedy problems after they have appeared, not efforts to prevent them. Benefit-cost analysis applies equally well, however, to both prevention and intervention programs. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Using Benefit-Cost Analysis to Assess Child Abuse Prevention and Intervention Programs
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.