In 1994 a group of researchers and decision makers met to discuss the state of child welfare. Also present were a few practitioners and two youth in care. Six years later, when they met again, the number of practitioners and youth had grown considerably and were joined by a strong contingent of foster parents. Thus the findings and insights presented were affirmed or challenged by those most affected -- those on the front line. It was an exciting event, worth capturing in book form. Kathleen Kufeldt and Brad McKenzie have gathered the papers presented at the 2000 Symposium and have organised them under four themes: incidence and characteristics of child maltreatment; the continuum of care; policy and practice; and future directions. An analysis and synthesis of the work informs each of these themes, while an eight-point research agenda developed in an earlier symposium is used to assess developments to date and provide guidance for the future.