Children’s Right to Health in the US Child Welfare System: A Case Study

Although the US child welfare system professes to protect and provide for children’s well-being, the reality is that the system is often detrimental to the nation’s most vulnerable children and families. Children under the purview of governmental child welfare agencies manifest some of the worst health outcomes among the US pediatric population. This chapter functions as a case study for the various failures of the US government to uphold its obligations to protect children’s health and well-being, particularly for children from the nation’s most historically oppressed and under-resourced populations, first examining the systemic inequities based on poverty level and race, then discussing the poor health outcomes of children within the system, and finally, exploring the ways in which a rights-based framework, aligned with international law, can help achieve the highest standard of attainable health for children involved with the US child welfare system.

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