Source: (2004) Maine Bar Journal. 19: 140-147.The child protection system in the United States is a complex combination and collaboration of public agencies, private child welfare agencies, and community-based organizations. Most families become involved with this system due to a report of suspected child abuse or neglect. Over the years the system has operated back and forth between two emphases. One focuses on "family preservation": that is, biological family structures are in the child's best interests; keeping the child in the family is preferred. The other focuses on child safety: that is, the safety of the child is paramount; removing the child from the possibility of abuse is preferred. Against this background, Dana Prescott discusses key legislative and statistical information on child abuse and welfare strategies, the effectiveness of various strategies and policies, and the potential of family group conferencing as an alternative model to balance family integrity and child safety.