Families who attract the attention of child protection services most often have ongoing lived experiences of poverty, gender-based domestic and family violence, problematic substance use and, sometimes, formally diagnosed mental health conditions. Without broader contextual knowledge and understanding, particularly regarding ongoing poverty, decision-making by child protection workers often leads to the removal of children, while the family’s material poverty and experiences of violence remain unaddressed. Case studies are a common tool to succinctly capture complex contexts. In this article, we make explicit, through case examples and analysis, how poverty is almost always the backdrop to the presence of worrying risk factors before and during child protection intervention. Further, we expose the existential poverty that parents live with after they lose their children into care and which invariably exacerbates material poverty. In the final section, we consider the multi-faceted organisational poverty that blights the work environment of child protection workers, and we suggest strategies for improved practice with families living in poverty.