Child Maltreatment and Child Welfare Intervention: Contextual and Individual Inequalities
thesisposted on 03.03.2017, 00:00 by Kristin S. Abner
This dissertation uses data from the National Survey of Child and Adolescent Well-being-II (NSCAW-II) and state-level data from the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) to analyze how contextual risk factors predict involvement with child protective services. This research identifies how individual and contextual characteristics contribute to child welfare allegations and intervention decisions. I employed propensity score weighted regression to test for differences across high and low risk neighborhoods, comparing families investigated by the child welfare system by allegation type and intervention decision. Then, I conducted multinomial logistic regression to test whether family-level race/income moderate the relationship between contextual measures and the outcomes of interest. The national analysis found that caregivers who reported higher social support, and specifically, high affective support, were more likely to experience allegations of blatant child neglect than allegations of neglect/failure-to-provide. Caregivers with more social support as well as those who reported higher social order in their neighborhoods were also more likely to have cases that receive services. Caregivers with the more intensive child welfare interventions – those with substantiated cases with services or with a child removal – reported better neighborhood conditions and higher social support. The Illinois DCFS analysis found that, overall, among investigated families, there was a higher proportion of families who resided in neighborhoods with the highest risk factors with allegations of neglect. And, among investigated families, there was a higher proportion of families with substantiated cases and placements in the areas with the highest risk factors. This dissertation concludes with implications for the findings in relation to community-based child maltreatment prevention initiatives. Considering how structural disadvantages can interact and influence child abuse allegations and intervention decisions can help researchers and practitioners fully understand protective and risk factors of the child welfare system in order to build place-based initiatives to better serve families.