RESEARCH REPORT

In brief

In brief

  • Accenture studied approaches to child welfare to assess their effectiveness in delivering positive outcomes for vulnerable kids.
  • We evaluated the success of government-led top-down and family-centric bottom-up initiatives, identifying areas for improvement.
  • We developed a new approach called ‘collective smart design’, which uses design, data and digital to effect change.


  • Child welfare is a pressing challenge for governments around the world. In the US alone, there are four million reports of child abuse each year, and the government spends $29 billion annually on services to support child welfare and prevent maltreatment.
  • Vulnerable children face complex issues in their families –including unemployment, domestic violence and financial stress. Some escape these damaging environments, but most remain trapped and enter a cycle of disadvantage.
  • No single policy can solve child welfare. Top-down and bottom-up approaches both have their limitations. What’s needed is a new approach.
  • A new methodology called ‘collective smart design’ can point the way. It’s a new structured approach to problem-solving that combines data, design and digital to shift how child welfare systems think, work and interact. The result? Child welfare leaders can overcome barriers to innovation and enact major change.
It’s not that the sector lacks powerful ideas and a desire to change. Rather, it’s that it lacks a robust way to apply these ideas across the entire child welfare ecosystem.

Rainer Binder

Lead – Social Services, Global Industry


Molly Tierney

Senior Manager – Health & Public Sector, North America

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