An examination of child protective service involvement among children born to mothers in foster care

Andrea Lane Eastman, Emily Putnam-Hornstein
Child Abuse & Neglect 2018 December 13, 88: 317-325

OBJECTIVE: This study identified children born to mothers in foster care and documented Child Protective Service (CPS) involvement among children.

METHODS: Probabilistically linked birth and CPS records from California (2009-2012) were used to identify all mothers in foster care on or after conception. Children were followed prospectively using linked records to identify CPS involvement occurring during the first three years of life. Differences between reported and unreported children were examined using χ2 tests. The Latent Class Analysis (LCA) identified classes of children born to mothers in care who were at increased risk of CPS involvement. Model fit was assessed using the Bayesian Information Criterion, entropy, and likelihood ratio tests. For each of the classes, the relationship to the distal outcome (i.e., a maltreatment report by age three), was examined.

RESULTS: Findings indicate that 53% of children born to mothers in care were reported. The proportion of children reported to CPS for maltreatment declined over time, from 63% of children born to mothers in foster care in 2009, to 46% in 2012. The LCA documented three distinct classes of mother-child dyads with varying risk of report. More than one third of children in Class 1 and nearly 70% of children in Class 3 were reported.

CONCLUSIONS: This study was the first to develop multi-dimensional class profiles of two-generation CPS involvement among mother-child dyads. This study documents that mothers' experiences in care and mental health conditions vary widely, underscoring the importance of providing services that fit the needs of dyads.

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