The Child Welfare League of America (CWLA) and the Child Welfare League of Canada (CWLC) are pleased to announce a call for papers for a special issue of Child Welfare dedicated to examining the relationship between poverty and child welfare system involvement. The issue will focus on the pathways and mechanisms through which poverty contributes to child welfare system involvement and, conversely, through which such involvement affects the life chances of children living in poverty. Of special interest are submissions which move beyond highlighting the association between poverty and child welfare involvement to critically examine this association and offer new approaches to understanding and addressing it in the North American context.

A large body of literature documents the overrepresentation of poor children in the child welfare system, the relationship between poverty and the overrepresentation of families of color/racialized** families and Indigenous families in the child welfare system, and the association between poverty and a large number of other child and family risk factors. However, understanding of mechanisms that result in children and families living in poverty being overrepresented in child welfare systems is still developing and there is still a lack of consensus as to how child welfare systems can best serve and support families in poverty.

Accordingly, the goal of the special issue is to advance understanding of these questions by featuring policy, theoretical, and empirical papers focused on poverty and child welfare. Guest editors are: Lenette Azzi-Lessing (Boston University) and Vandna Sinha (University of Colorado, Boulder).

We are particularly interested in manuscripts that focus on one or more of the following areas:

  1. The mechanisms and pathways through which poverty leads to higher rates of child welfare involvement in the North American context;
  2. The linkages between poverty, historical and ongoing oppression, and the overrepresentation in the child welfare system of families of color/racialized families and Indigenous families.
  3. The implications of ‘controlling for poverty’ when considering the overrepresentation of racialized families/families of color and Indigenous families in the child welfare system in light of the linkages between poverty, oppression, and child welfare involvement for these families;
  4. The relationship between entrenched, negative moral judgements about families living in poverty and high rates of child welfare involvement in North America;
  5. The structural, community, and neighborhood factors that can support, and reduce the likelihood of child welfare involvement for, children and families in poverty; and/or
  6. Effective or promising child welfare approaches and/or policy changes, within and beyond North America, that focus on effectively supporting and serving families living in poverty.

Prospective authors should submit abstracts of up to 750 words to Rachel Adams at by February 3rd, 2020. Abstracts should clearly identify the topic, methods (including data sources for empirical papers), expected or preliminary findings and practice and policy implications. Invitations to submit a full article will be extended by April 3rd. Initial drafts of the selected papers are due by September 15, and final papers are expected by March of 2021. Publication of the special issue is targeted for Spring 2021.

**According to the Ontario Human Rights Commission, “the process of social construction of race is called racialization: ‘the process by which societies construct races as real, different and unequal in ways that matter to economic, political and social life.’” (Retrieved from