Faith-Based Welfare Services Safer For Kids Compared To Secular Programs, Baylor Study Finds

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A Baylor University study shows that children are safer from sexual and professional abuse in faith-based welfare programs than in secular ones.

The Christian Post reported that the study was based on the insurance data of Christian child welfare organizations affiliated with the Association of Christian Childcare Administrators. The study particularly involved data from 2015 to 2020 on incidents of sexual and professional child abuse in a dozen member organizations of ACCA. The data was then compared to secular organizations' data of the same nature.

Entitled "The Association of Christian Childcare Administrators: Keeping Children Safe," the study was undertaken by Baylor University's Director Byron Johnson and research fellow William Wubbenhorst. Johnson and Wubbenhorst highlighted that the role of faith-based childcare organizations has been given significant attention in the past years with the government encouraging partnerships with them toward the strengthening of the family.

The researchers stressed that faith-based childcare services also experienced their share of controversy, especially on the issue of discrimination from the LGBTQ+ community, like that in the case of Michigan-based St. Vincent Catholic Charities, which won against a same-sex couple insisting to adopt a child against the foster care's Christian beliefs.

Faith-Based Welfare Services Are Safer

Key findings of the study show that faith-based childcare services have a higher Youth to Staff Ratio, which meant a parallel level of safety for children served in residential care. The study showed that Christian child welfare organizations registered a 2.85 to 6 youth per staff member, which is higher than the 6 to 1 minimum licensing guidelines of states.

In the area of insurance loss ratios, Christian welfare organizations also had better results than secular ones.

"The total losses paid out by insurance companies for the eleven ACCA-affiliated child welfare agencies providing data was only $1.42 million, resulting in an overall 'pure' loss ratio of 48%. The loss ratio by agency varied significantly, from a low of 0% to a high of 114%. All the losses reported were related to property. None of the losses were attributed to abuse," the study said.

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The insurance loss ratios are an important indicator of how profitable the insurer or client will be. If the insurance loss ratio is below 50%, it means it is more profitable. It is then more profitable for insurers to acquire the services of Christian welfare organizations because they have fewer payouts than secular ones.

The more favorable insurance loss ratios registered by Christian welfare organizations, as per the Baptist Standard, were attributed by the study's researchers to relationship-building. Faith-based childcare services often have a mission and focus on relationships.

Faith-Based Welfare Services Focus On Relationships

A former foster youth, Rhonda Sciortino, explained that faith-based childcare services' investment in relationships is foundational to the safety of the children under their care. Sciortino stressed that the emphasis on relationships also affects the organization's turnover rate, which is lower. She emphasized that "higher staff retention also reduces the risk factor we identified as it relates to breaks in routine for the youth under their care."

Beyond this anchor on relationships, faith-based childcare services are also better at defending abuse claims due to strict documentation policies. Sciortino explained that faith-based childcare organizations have a high level of documentation from staff screening to training, which is useful in the event of lawsuits.

This even includes a fingerprinting and background check to ensure the safety of children and protect them from the inappropriate behavior and actions of other people, such as that conducted by the Archdiocese of Washington for its child protection programs.

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