Interviews were conducted with 152 neglectful mothers and with 154 non-neglectful, who were matched on race, economic status, urban/rural status and other life circumstances. The neglectful mothers reported less support available from informal networks; they also described their neighborhoods as less friendly and helpful than did the controls. However, the conclusion that neglect is related to living in settings that are socially impoverished was not supported by independent interviews with neighbors. Rather, it appeared that neglectful mothers are often isolated by those around them. Because they are seen as deviant and unlikely to reciprocate help, they do not have access to such support as there may be in their ecology. A new model is presented for preventive, community-based intervention, based on the findings of the research.