Little work has been done to systematically analyze how high-profile incidents of child neglect and abuse shape child welfare policymaking in the United States. In Scandalous Politics , Juliet Gainsborough presents quantitative analysis of all fifty states and qualitative case studies of three states (Florida, Colorado, and New Jersey) that reveal how well-publicized child welfare scandals result in adoption of new legislation and new administrative procedures. Gainsborough's quantitative analysis suggests that child welfare policymaking is frequently reactive, while the case studies provide more detail about variations and the legislative process. For example, the case studies illustrate how the nature and extent of the policy response varies according to particular characteristics of the political environment in the state and the administrative structure of the child welfare system. Scandalous Politics increases our understanding of the politics of child welfare at both the state and federal level and provides new insights into existing theories of agenda-setting and the policy process. It will be of interest to everyone involved with child welfare policymaking and especially public policy and public administration scholars.
Juliet F. Gainsborough is an associate professor of political science at Bentley University. She is author of Fenced Off: The Suburbanization of American Politics.