Biological Evidence in Adult and Adolescent Sexual Assault Cases: Timing and Relationship to Arrest
Ted Cross, Megan Alderden, Alex Wagner, Lisa Sampson, Brittany Peters, and Kaitlin Lounsbury
This study examined the timing of the crime laboratory report relative to arrests in sexual assault cases and explored the relationship between biological evidence and arrest in those cases in which the crime laboratory report came first and thus could have influenced the arrest decision. A random sample (N = 528) of cases that occurred between 2008 and 2010 and included a report to police was drawn from a Massachusetts statewide database of medical reports on sexual assault cases. Data from medical providers were merged with data abstracted from crime laboratory reports and with data requested from police departments. The vast majority (91.5%) of arrests took place before crime laboratory analysis could be conducted. The crime laboratory report was available before or near in time to the arrest in 11 cases. These cases were significantly more likely than other cases to have DNA profiles of the assailant, DNA matches to the suspect, and a match to another investigation in the FBI’s CODIS DNA database. Given that the probable cause needed to make an arrest in these cases was presumably established only after crime laboratory analysis was available, DNA may have helped lead to the arrest in these cases. However, these results should be interpreted very cautiously, because statistically significant results in early, small studies can have inflated effect sizes and often do not replicate in future studies. Because most arrests occur well before biological evidence is available, improvements in recovering biological evidence may have modest effects on arrest rates, though they may impact arrest rates by identifying more serial offenders. Future research on the relationship of biological evidence to arrest should use methods to increase sample size of relevant cases, such as oversampling cases with later arrests and using case control study designs. Future studies should also use case abstraction and interview methods to explore how police use biological evidence to make arrests.
Cross, T.P., Alderden, M.A, Wagner, A., Sampson, L., Peters, B. & Lounsbury, K. (2020). Biological evidence in adult and adolescent sexual assault cases: Timing and relationship to arrest. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 7/8, 1828-1939.
Child Advocacy Studies (CAST): A National Movement to Improve the Undergraduate and Graduate Training of Child Protection Professionals
Victor Vieth, Betsy Goulet, Michele Knox, Jennifer Parker, Lisa Johnson, and Ted Cross
This article documents the growth of the Child Advocacy Studies (CAST) movement to improve education on child abuse for undergraduates and graduates training in child-serving professions. CAST programs provide instruction on a range of topics on child maltreatment and experiential learning using simulations of child protection professional encounters with families. CAST courses and programs have been implemented in 73 institutions of higher education in twenty states. CAST is a promising approach to improving the skills of child-serving professionals across the country in dealing with child abuse and neglect.
Vieth, Victor I.; Goulet, Betsy; Knox, Michele; Parker, Jennifer; Johnson, Lisa B.; Tye, Karla Steckler; and Cross, Theodore P. (2019) "Child Advocacy Studies (CAST): A National Movement to Improve the Undergraduate and Graduate Training of Child Protection Professionals," Mitchell Hamline Law Review: Vol. 45 : Iss. 4 , Article 5.
Emergency Department Admissions of Child Sexual Abuse: Recent National Trends and Correlates
J. Helton, M. Vaughn, J. Carbone, and Ted Cross
For children who have been sexually abused, emergency department (ED) professionals provide immediate medical care, including testing and treatment for sexually transmitted infections, prophylaxis for potential HIV exposure, and emergency contraception.¹ In some cases, ED clinicians conduct forensic examinations to assist with child protection and criminal investigations.² Physicians and nurses in EDs are among the first to recognize the signs of sexual abuse and identify patients who are currently being abused, such as children being exploited in sex trafficking.³ Despite the medical, criminal justice, and protective roles that ED professionals serve in caring for vulnerable children, few data are available regarding the frequency with which children are admitted to the ED for sexual abuse. Therefore, this analysis observed patterns among children admitted to the ED for sexual abuse across the United States and examined important subgroup characteristics based on demographic and primary payer data.
Helton, J., Vaughn, M., Carbone, J. & Cross T.P. (2019). Emergency department admissions of child sexual abuse: Recent national trends and correlates. JAMA Pediatrics. Nov 04, 1-3
Forensic Medical Results and Law Enforcement Actions Following Sexual Assault: A Comparison of Child, Adolescent and Adult Cases
Ted Cross and Thaddeus Schmitt
In sexual assault cases, little research has examined differences in forensic medical findings and law enforcement response by victim age across the entire age range. This study addressed this gap by comparing four victim age groups: adults, adolescents over the age of consent, adolescents under the age of consent, and children under 12. Cases were randomly sampled from a statewide database of medical reports on sexual assault examinations conducted in hospital emergency departments, including only cases reported to law enforcement.
Cross, T. & Schmitt, T. (2019). Forensic medical results and law enforcement Actions following sexual assault: a comparison of child, adolescent and adult cases. Child Abuse & Neglect, 93, 103-110
Families’ Experience of Pediatric Onset Multiple Sclerosis
Ted Cross, Alane Shanks, Lisa Duffy, and David Rintell
This study interviewed parents to understand families’ experience with pediatric onset multiple sclerosis (POMS), which make up 2.7% to 10.5% of all MS cases. 21 sets of parents of children with a confirmed diagnosis of POMS were recruited from two pediatric MS centers. Families experienced stress from the uncertainty prior to diagnosis, anxiety over symptoms and possible progression of the disease, frustrations with the uncertain effects of disease-modifying treatments (DMTs), and difficulties with injections. Families had to cope with cognitive and physical effects of POMS at school, decisions about expectations and independence for the child, and extra demands POMS placed on the family. Most parents reported benefitting from support from physicians, the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, and the MS community. Families had benefitted from DMTs, and, despite the stresses, most had adapted successfully to the illness. Advice from interviewees to other parents and recommendations for improving family support are presented.
Cross, T., Shanks, A., Duffy, L., & Rintell, D. (2019). Families’ experience of pediatric onset multiple sclerosis. Journal of Child & Adolescent Trauma, https://doi.org/10.1007/s40653-018-0243-7.
Prosecutors’ Perspectives on Biological Evidence and Injury Evidence in Sexual Assault Cases
Megan Alderden, Theodore Cross, Maja Vlajnic, and Laura Siller
Little prior research has explored how prosecutors perceive and utilize biological and injury evidences in sexual assault cases. In this qualitative study, semistructured interviews were conducted with assistant district attorneys (ADAs) working in an urban district attorney’s office in the northeastern United States. ADAs were asked to describe how biological and injury evidences could be probative and their strategies for using this evidence. The interviews suggest that prosecutors perceive the probative value of biological and injury evidences on a continuum, varying based on case characteristics. Prosecutors felt that undergoing a forensic medical examination in itself supported victims’ credibility. Biological evidence bolstered victims’ credibility if it matched the victim’s account better than the defendant’s. They perceived DNA evidence as helpful when it identified unknown suspects, confirmed identification of suspects by other means, or rebutted defendants’ denial of sexual contact. DNA evidence was also helpful when victims were incapacitated, too traumatized to recall or talk about the assault, or too young to identify assailants, and when police used the information in interrogating suspects. The biggest limitation to biological evidence prosecutors cited was overcoming the consent defense. The ADAs reported they used DNA evidence even when it was not particularly probative, because it confirms the correct person is being prosecuted, it communicates the victim’s and prosecution’s seriousness, and it meets jury expectations in trials. Prosecutors found injury evidence useful because it corroborated victims’ accounts and helped refute defendant claims of consensual sex. The findings may assist in educating others about biological and injury evidences in these cases, and could inspire professionals and advocates to work to develop and support a broad range of investigative methods.
Alderden, M., Cross, T., Vlajnic, M., & Siller, L. (2018). Prosecutors’ perspectives on biological evidence and injury evidence in sexual assault cases. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 1–23
How Often and in What Circumstances Does Law Enforcement Investigate in Child Protection Cases?
Theodore Cross, Emmeline Chuang, Jesse Helton, Seth Boughton, and Emily Lux
Few disagree that child maltreatment can sometimes be a crime; for example, with most sexual offenses or when physical abuse or serious neglect leads to major child injury or death. Yet we would probably not want the police involved when child protective services (CPS) contacts a family because of reports that children were hungry and ill-clothed at school, or in similar cases. Professional publications have disagreed about the value of a criminal justice response versus a purely therapeutic or family court approach to child maltreatment (Harshbarger, 1987; Levesque, 1995; Newberger, 1987; Peters, Dinsmore, & Toth, 1989). But we know little about how often police investigate in CPS cases and in what circumstances.
Cross, T., Chuang, E., Helton, J., Boughton, S., & Lux, E. (2018). How often and in what circumstances does law enforcement investigate in child protection cases? Child Welfare 360 Degrees, Spring 2018.
Food Neglect and Infant Development
Jesse Helton, Theodore Cross, Michael Vaughn, and Tatiana Gochez‐Kerr
The impact of food insecurity on child development in the general U.S. population is well-established, yet little is known about the harm of food neglect relative to other types of maltreatment. Due to the harmful physiological impact of inadequate nutrients and the social impact of food-related stress, it was hypothesized that food neglect would be more likely to impair infant cognitive and language development than physical abuse, sexual abuse, and other forms of neglect. Families of infants (N = 1,951) investigated by Child Protective Services were studied using the second cohort of the National Survey of Child and Adolescent Well-Being (NSCAW II; NSCAW Research Group, 2002). Results from multivariable logistic regression models that controlled for likely confounding variables showed that the odds of impairment in cognition and language were significantly greater when food neglect was the most serious form of maltreatment. Considering that both food insecurity and child neglect are associated with poverty and parental mental health problems, it will be important for child welfare and mental health professionals to work collaboratively to better the health of these vulnerable children.
Helton, J., Cross, T., Vaughn, M., & Gochez‐Kerr, T. (2018). Food neglect and infant development. Infant Mental Health Journal, 39(2), 231-241.
Psychology and Child Protection: Promoting Widespread Improvement in Practice
Ted Cross and Irit Herskowitz
CFRC's Ted Cross, a clinical psychologist by training collaborated with Dr. irit Hershkowitz of the University of Haifa to explore the contribution of psychology to child protection. This article reviews this contribution and suggests opportunities for psychology to contribute more, choosing 3 selected areas: (a) interviewing children to assess child maltreatment, (b) the well-being of children involved with the child protection system, and (c) evidence-based practices to ameliorate the effects of child maltreatment among children involved with the child protection system. Across these areas, psychology has contributed both to the knowledge base and to available assessment and intervention methods. However, in each area, the effect on usual child protection practice has been limited. Psychology has an opportunity to broaden its contribution through research and systems intervention aimed at extending gains in these areas throughoutthe child protection field.
Cross, T. P., & Hershkowitz, I. (2017). Psychology and child protection: Promoting widespread improvement in practice. Psychology, Public Policy, and Law, 4, 503-518.
The Practice of Prosecuting Child Maltreatment: Results of an Online Survey of Prosecutors
Theodore P. Cross and Debra Whitcomb
Despite efforts by advocates, practitioners, and legislators to alleviate the burden on child maltreatment victims in the criminal justice system, many challenges remain for prosecutors as they seek to hold offenders accountable while minimizing the emotional impact on children. More than 200 state and local prosecutors in 37 states responded to an online survey to share their perspectives on current challenges, procedures to support children in the adjudication process, and the impact of the U.S. Supreme Court opinion in Crawford v. Washington (2004), sex offender registries, and "Safe Harbor" legislation to protect child sexual exploitation victims. Respondents' most pressing challenges were obtaining evidence to corroborate children's statements and the difficulties of working with child victims. Child testimony was ranked as more frequent than any other type of evidence, and least frequent were DNA, photos or videos of criminal acts, and other physical evidence. Prosecutors rely primarily on victim/witness assistants and courtroom tours to prepare children for testimony; technological alternatives are seldom used. Results suggest a real but limited impact of the Crawford opinion on the need for child testimony and on the decision to prosecute. Survey findings indicate a need for greater attention to thorough investigations with particular attention to corroboration. Doing so may strengthen the child's credibility, which is especially critical in cases lacking physical or medical evidence of maltreatment.
Cross, T.P & Whitcomb, D. (2017). The practice of prosecuting child maltreatment: Results of an online survey of prosecutors. Child Abuse & Neglect. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1016/j.chiabu.2017.04.007
Criminal Investigations in Child Protective Services Cases: An Empirical Analysis
Theodore P. Cross, Emmeline Chuang, Jesse J. Helton, and Emily A. Lux
This study analyzed the frequency and correlates of criminal investigation of child maltreatment in cases investigated by child protective service (CPS), using national probability data from the National Survey of Child and Adolescent Well-Being. Criminal investigations were conducted in slightly more than 25% of cases. Communities varied substantially in percentage criminally investigated. Sexual abuse was the most frequent type of maltreatment criminally investigated followed by physical abuse. Logistic regression results indicated that criminal investigations were more likely when caseworkers perceived greater harm and more evidence; when CPS conducted an investigation rather than an assessment; when a parent or a legal guardian reported themaltreatment; and when cases were located in communities in which CPS and police had a memorandum of understanding (MOU) governing coordination. Most variation between communities in criminal investigation remained unexplained. The findings suggest the potential of MOUs for communities wanting to increase criminal investigation.
Cross, T.P., Chuang, E., Helton, J.J. & Lux, E.A. (2015). Criminal investigation in child protective services cases: An empirical analysis. Child Maltreatment, 20, 104-114.
The Timing of Forensic Evidence in Sexual Assault Cases
Megan Alderden and Theodore P. Cross
This newsletter article presents a brief overview of key findings from a study of forensic evidence in sexual assault cases and its relationship to arrest, focusing particularly on the role of timing. Most arrests took place well before crime laboratory analysis could be conducted, but DNA profiles and matches to suspects were prominent in a small set of cases in which police had access to crime laboratory results prior to arrest. Readers who want to glean important knowledge from this National Institute of Justice study with a brief investment of time can seek this article from the Sexual Assault Report newsletter.
Alderden, M & Cross, T.P. (2014). The timing of forensic evidence in sexual assault cases. Sexual Assault Report, 17, 83-84.
Obesity Prevalence Among Youth Investigated for Maltreatment in the United States
Jesse Helton and Janet Liechty
The objective of this study is to determine the prevalence and correlates of obesity among youth investigated for maltreatment in the United States. Participants were drawn from the National Survey of Child and Adolescent Well-Being II, a national probability study of 5,873 children aged birth to 17 years under investigation for maltreatment in 2008. From child weight reported by caregivers, we estimated obesity (weight-for-age ≥95th percentile) prevalence among children aged 2 through 17 (n = 2,948). Sex-specific logistic regression models by developmental age were used to identify obesity risk factors, including child age, race/ethnicity, and maltreatment type. Obesity prevalence was 25.4% and was higher among boys than girls (30.0% vs. 20.8%). African American adolescent boys had a lower risk for obesity than white boys (OR = 0.28, 95% CI [0.08, 0.94]). Compared with girls aged 2–5 with a neglect allegation, girls with a sexual abuse allegation were at greater risk for obesity (OR = 3.54, 95% CI [1.01, 12.41]). Compared with adolescent boys with a neglect allegation, boys with a physical abuse allegation had a lower risk for obesity (OR = 0.24, 95% CI [0.06, 0.99]). Adolescent girls with a prior family history of investigation were at greater risk for obesity than those without a history of investigation (OR = 3.97, 95% CI [1.58, 10.02]). Youth investigated for maltreatment have high obesity rates compared with national peers. Opportunities to modify and evaluate related child welfare policies and health care practices should be pursued.
Helton, J. J., & Liechty, J. M. (2014). Obesity prevalence among youth investigated for maltreatment in the United States. Child Abuse & Neglect.
What Explains Instability in Foster Care? Propensity Score Matching of Children with Stable and Unstable Placements
Eun Koh, Nancy Rolock, Theodore P. Cross & Jennifer Eblen-Manning
This study investigates what characteristics explain placement instability for children in foster care. Using a matched sample of children experiencing stable and unstable placements, bivariate and logistic regression analyses were conducted to identify factors for placement instability. The study also examines specific reasons for placement changes for a group of children who experienced multiple placements. Findings from this study highlight the following three components that contribute to placement stability for children in foster care: a) a caregiver's commitment to a child's legal permanence; b) the absence of a child's mental health diagnosis; and c) placements with a relative caregiver. The findings of the study also illustrate that while system- or policy-related reasons explain the largest proportion of placement changes for children's earlier stay in foster care, a majority of placement changes are attributed to either foster family-related or child behavior-related reasons over time. This is a companion article to Cross and colleagues (2013) publication, Why Do Children Experience Multiple Placement Changes in Foster Care? A Content Analysis on Reasons for Instability, which is cited elsewhere in this listing of publications.
Koh, E., Rolock, N., Cross, T.P., & Eblen-Manning, J. (2014). What explains instability in foster care? Propensity score matching of children with stable and unstable placements. Children and Youth Services Review, 37, 36-45.
Prevalence of Disabilities and Abilities in Children Investigated for Abuse and Neglect
Jesse Helton and Christina Bruhn
Research on disability prevalence among children in child welfare settings has typically rendered disability as a dichotomous yes/no variable. Dichotomous assessments do not take into account how disability impairs body functions, limits activities of daily living, and restricts participation in activities. A superior measurement method positions disability on a continuum of distinct abilities that can vary substantially for children with the same diagnosis. The purpose of this study is to examine disability as a continuum of abilities in different domains (cognitive, behavioral, social, and daily living) for children ages 3 to 10 years who were part of a maltreatment investigation.
Helton, J. J., & Bruhn, C. M. (2013). Prevalence of disabilities and abilities in children investigated for abuse and neglect. Journal of Public Child Welfare,7(5), 480-495.
The Seven Pillars of Quality Care in a Statewide Pediatric Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner Program
Ted Cross, Joan Meunier-Sham, and L. Zuniga
This article describes a systematic approach used by a statewide pediatric sexual assault nurse examiner program to ensure the quality of forensic medical examinations it provides in child sexual abuse investigations. Seven strategies for enhancing quality are described: (a) hiring experienced professionals, (b) effective training, (c) comprehensive protocols, (d) ample support for pediatric sexual assault nurses, (e) management oversight, (f) a clinical coordinator to provide ongoing training and technical assistance, and (g) a quality assurance process in which expert child abuse pediatricians review each statewide pediatric sexual assault nurse examination. To show the evolution of quality care over time, the program's experience from 2004 to 2010 is reviewed, and quality assurance data are analyzed.
Sham, J.M., Cross, T.P. & Zuniga, L. (2013). The seven pillars of quality care in a statewide pediatric sexual assault nurse examiner program. Journal of Child Sexual Abuse, 22,722-739.
Didn't We Just See You? Time to Recurrence Among Frequently Encountered Families in CPS
Saijun Zhang, Tamara Fuller, and Martin Nieto
In child protection services, multiple maltreatment recurrences, or chronic maltreatment, has been a concern drawing increased attention because of its persistent harm to the children and the need to consider more ef- fective intervention strategies to meet its unique needs. Timing has been an important issue in understanding the pattern of chronic maltreatment. No existing research has examined the influence of the interval between previous maltreatment incidents on future recurrences. The current study uses state administrative data to conduct longitudinal analyses to examine how the interval between previous maltreatment incidents is asso- ciated with the likelihood of future maltreatment occurrence among children who encountered multiple maltreatment recurrences. The findings suggest that short intervals are associated with increased likelihood of encountering a future recurrence, while controlling various covariates. The findings suggest the possibility of including the interval between previous maltreatment incidents as an indicator for child maltreatment risk assessment, and the need for developing responsive intervention strategies to stop the trend of chronic maltreatment.
Zhang, S., Fuller, T., & Nieto, M (2013). Didn't we just see you? Time to recurrence among frequently encountered families in CPS. Children and Youth Services Review, 35, 883–889.
Why Do Children Experience Multiple Placement Changes in Foster Care? Content Analysis on Reasons for Instability
Theodore Cross, Eun Koh, Nancy Rolock & Jennifer Eblen-Manning
This study used content analysis and qualitative analysis to examine reasons for moves in 53 child welfare cases with placement instability. Coding from case records of reasons for placement moves revealed three categories in most cases: 1) caregiver-related reasons, such as maltreatment by caregivers or changes in caregivers' lives; 2) child behavior-related reasons such as aggressive behaviors; and 3) system- or policy-related reasons, such as the need to use temporary placements or the aim of placing children with siblings. Children's previous instability should be considered in choosing and supporting caregivers, providing mental health resources, and considering moves to improve care.
Theodore Cross, Eun Koh, Nancy Rolock & Jennifer Eblen-Manning (2013). Why do children experience multiple placement changes in foster care? Content analysis on reasons for instability. Journal of Public Child Welfare, 7, 39-58.
Engagement in Child Protective Services: Parent Perceptions of Worker Skills
Jill Schreiber, Tamara Fuller, and Megan Paceley
Recent reforms in child protection systems (CPS) in several countries have placed an increased emphasis on engaging parents in the initial assessment and service planning process. CPS workers, however, face multiple barriers to successful engagement with parents, including parents' preconceived notions of CPS and their subsequent fearful or angry responses to the initial visit. This qualitative study sought input from 40 parents involved in CPS regarding the strategies that workers used to successfully engage them in the child protection intervention. Three major themes about worker skills emerged from the analysis of the interview transcripts: parents were more positively engaged with CPS workers who they perceived as competent, who utilized positive communication skills, and who provided them with either emotional or concrete support. These findings have clear implications for CPS worker training; especially for CPS agencies that do not require CPS workers to have social work degrees. Additional implications for CPS agencies, such as the need for realistic worker caseloads and effective community outreach, are discussed.
Schreiber, J., Fuller, T., & Paceley, M. (2013). Engagement in child protective services: Parent perceptions of worker skills. Children and Youth Services Review, 35, 707–715.
Identifying the Substance Abuse Treatment Needs of Caregivers Involved in Child Welfare
Emmeline Chuang, Rebecca Wells, John Bellettiere and Theodore P. Cross
Parental substance use significantly increases risk of child maltreatment, but is often under-identified by child protective services. This study examined how agency use of standardized substance use assessments and child welfare investigative caseworker education, experience, and caseload affected caseworkers' identification of parental substance abuse treatment needs. Data are from a national probability sample of permanent, primary caregivers involved with child protective services whose children initially remained at home and whose confidential responses on two validated instruments indicated harmful substance use or dependence. Investigative caseworkers reported use of a formal assessment in over two thirds of cases in which substance use was accurately identified. However, weighted logistic regression indicated that agency provision of standardized assessment instruments was not associated with caseworker identification of caregiver needs. Caseworkers were also less likely to identify substance abuse when their caseloads were high and when caregivers were fathers. Implications for agency practice are discussed.
Chuang, E., Wells, R., Bellettiere, J. & Cross, T.P. (2013). Identifying the substance abuse treatment needs of caregivers involved in child welfare. Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment, 45, 118-125.
Child Welfare Policy and Practice on Children's Exposure to Domestic Violence
Theodore Cross, Ben Mathews, Lil Tonmyr, Debbie Scott and Catherine Ouimet
Children's exposure to domestic violence (EDV) has increasingly been considered a form of maltreatment. This article provides an overview of knowledge on the child welfare response to EDV, from research and program and policy development in Australia, Canada and the United States. Although EDV is underreported, almost half of caregivers in child maltreatment have experienced DV and more than a third of children in DV cases have witnessed it. Mandatory reporting has been tried in some jurisdictions, but can lead to inappropriate reports, strain on the child welfare system, and an insufficient response if not matched by adequate training and service availability. Improved child welfare response to EDV has involved increased collaboration and training, protocol development and dedicated EDV staffing. New initiatives have embedded the response to EDV within broader programs to protect children from violence. Differential response programs hold promise for addressing EDV.
Cross, T.P., Mathews, B., Tonmyr, L., Scott, D. & Ouimet, C. (2012). Child welfare policy and practice on children's exposure to domestic violence. Child Abuse & Neglect, 36, 210-216.
Mental Health Professionals in Children's Advocacy Centers: Is There Role Conflict?
Theodore Cross, Janet Fine, Lisa Jones and Wendy Walsh
Children's Advocacy Centers (CACs) are specialized multidisciplinary programs that respond to child abuse in over 700 communities across the U.S. This article is a response to two recent chapters in professional books that have criticized CACs for creating role conflict for mental health professionals, because of their work with criminal justice and child protection professionals in CACs as part of a coordinated response to child abuse. The article argues that these authors overestimate the risk of role conflict. CACs set a boundary between forensic interviewing and therapy. Many mental health professionals in CACs serve as consultants with no clinical responsibility and all are rarely involved in investigation. Participation in multidisciplinary teams focuses on children’s interests and well-being.
Cross, T.P., Fine, J., Jones, L.M. & Walsh, W.A. (2012). Mental health professionals in children’s advocacy centers: Is there role conflict? Journal of Child Sexual Abuse, 21, 91-108.
Do Parents Blame or Doubt their Child More When Sexually Abused by Adolescents Versus Adults?
Wendy Walsh, Theodore Cross and Lisa Jones
This study examined factors explaining parental doubt and blame of their child in 161 child sexual abuse cases. Parental blame and doubt was higher when youths were older, when youths were Black and non-Hispanic, and when alleged perpetrators were adolescents (versus adults). Practitioners need to recognize that adolescent victims may be at risk for parental doubt and blame, as may be victims of adolescent perpetrators.
Walsh, W.A., Cross, T.P. & Jones, L.M. (2012). Do parents blame or doubt their child more when sexually abused by adolescents versus adults?. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 27, 453-470.
The Journey of Dually-Involved Youth: The Description and Prediction of Rereporting and Recidivism
Joseph P. Ryan, Hui Huang and Denise Herz
Dually-involved youth refers to youth that are simultaneously receiving services from both the child welfare and juvenile justice systems. The current study focused on a sample of dually-involved youth (N = 1148). The study examined the characteristics of dually-involved youth and reported and predicted the incidence of subsequent maltreatment and re-offending. We found that 8% of dually-involved youth had at least one arrest before entering child welfare system, 32% experienced new reports of maltreatment referrals subsequent to arrest, and 56% were charged with a second offense (i.e., recidivated). The court outcomes received in delinquency court were associated with both rereporting and recidivism. These findings support the development of a shared services model for child welfare and juvenile justice systems.
Huang, H., Ryan, J.P., & Herz, D. (2012). The journey of dually-involved youth: The description and prediction of rereporting and recidivism. Children and Youth Services Review, 34, 254-260.
Children with Behavioral, Non-Behavioral, and Multiple Disabilities, and the Risk of Out-of-Home Placement Disruption
Jesse J. Helton
This study examined the relative risk of placement disruption for 3 - 10 year-old children placed in out-of-home care based on the biological relatedness of the placement caregiver and child disability status: no disability, a non-behavioral disability only, a behavioral disability only, or both a non-behavioral and behavioral disability.
Jesse J. Helton. (2011). Children with behavioral, non-behavioral, and multiple disabilities, and the risk of out-of-home placement disruption, Child Abuse & Neglect, 35, 956-964.
Parenting, Policies, and Practice: Christian Influence on Child Welfare in America
Schreiber, J. C.
Christianity has been integral to the development of America's child welfare policy in two ways: Christian beliefs have influenced evolving American cultural norms about parenting, and Christians have responded to children whose needs were not met by their parents, both by creating institutions and agencies and by influencing policies. Christian influences were explicit when Protestant Christianity was the cultural norm, but its influence is still present in the secular child welfare systems today. Since cultural norms are slow to change, changes are more apparent when taking a broad scope. To portray the variations in the role of Christianity in child welfare policy, this article compares three changes in centuries in American history: the Post-Colonial Era (late 1700-early 1800s), the Progressive Era (1890s-1920s), and what I refer to as the Modern Era (late 1900s-early 2000s). In colonial times, children were perceived to be the property of their fathers, and harsh physical punishment was deemed religiously necessary for successful child rearing. Over the past three centuries, mothers and children have developed more rights, limits were placed on physical discipline, and cultural values of self-actualization and independence have gradually replaced those of unquestioning obedience to authority. The first societal responses to poor parenting focused on poverty, and with time they evolved into child protection. Christians founded the first institutions that were focused on children -- orphanages. Currently, state public child welfare systems assume primary responsibility for child welfare, and are necessarily nonreligious. However, religious issues are still relevant. For example, many religious child welfare organizations receive public funding for their work through subcontracts.
Schreiber, J. C. (2011). Parenting, policies, and practice: Christian influence on child welfare in America. Social Work & Christianity, 38, 293-314.
Parenting Practices as Mediators of the Effect of Mothers' Community Violence Exposure on Young Children's Aggressive Behavior
Saijun Zhang & Mary Keegan Eamon
The authors analyzed data from the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study to investigate the direct and indirect effects of mothers' community violence exposure on young children's aggressive behavior. The findings indicate that mothers' community violence exposure was positively associated with psychologically and physically aggressive parenting and child aggression. Aggressive parenting practices were positively related to child aggression, and partially mediated the effect of mothers' violence exposure on child aggressive behaviors.
Zhang, S. & Eamon, M. K. (2011). Parenting practices as mediators of the effect of mothers' community violence exposure on young children's aggressive behavior. Families in Society, 92, 336-342.
Allegations of Maltreatment and Delinquency: Does Risk of Juvenile Arrest Vary Substantiation Status?
Yu-Ling Chiu, Joseph Ryan & Denise Herz
There exists a healthy debate about the process and value of substantiation in child welfare. Much of this debate focuses on understanding whether substantiated and unsubstantiated allegations of maltreatment share equal risk of recurrence. In the current study we seek to help advance the debate around substantiation and future risk by extending analyses and outcomes to include official records of juvenile delinquency and to determine whether the relationship between substantiation and delinquency varies by race and gender. Our sample includes 38,223 youth between 9 and 16 years of age from Los Angeles County. We use propensity score matching to create relatively equivalent groups and use Cox Regression to model the risk of juvenile arrest. The results indicate that the relative risk ratio of arrest is 2.2 times greater for youth associated with a substantiated report of maltreatment as compared with similar youth associated with an unsubstantiated report of maltreatment. Older youth, and African American youth are also at an increased risk of juvenile arrest. These findings indicate that the process of substantiation is not without merit - as investigators and supervisors are clearly able to distinguish cases based on risks and strengths.
Chiu, Y. L., Ryan, J. P, & Herz, D. C. (2011). Allegations of Maltreatment and Delinquency: Does Risk of Juvenile Arrest vary Substantiation Status? Children and Youth Services Review, 33, 855-860.
The Relationship of Child Functioning to Parental Physical Assault: Linear and Curvilinear Models
Jesse Helton and Ted Cross
Previous research suggests a curvilinear relationship between child disability and physical abuse, with children with mild impairments at greater risk than both children with severe impairments and superior functioning. Using a national probability sample of families investigated for maltreatment (N = 1675), this study tested for both linear and curvilinear relationships of child functioning to parental physical assault. Linear relationships were found between problem behaviors and minor and severe assault, and between social skills and minor assault: the more impaired the level of child functioning, the greater the risk. Curvilinear relationships were found in which children with mildly impaired or average language skills were at greater risk for minor assault than both children with severe impairment or above average and superior skills. Children with superior daily-living skills were at lower risk for severe assault than all other children. Implications for understanding processes underlying parental physical assault of children with impairments are discussed.
Helton, J. & Cross, T.P. (2011). The relationship of child functioning to parental physical assault: Linear and curvilinear models. Child Maltreatment, 16, 126-136.
Mother Reports of Maternal Support Following Child Sexual Abuse: Preliminary Psychometric Data on the Maternal Self-Report Support Questionnaire (MSSQ)
Daniel Smith, Genelle Sawyer, Lisa Jones, Theodore Cross, Michael McCart, and M. Elizabeth Ralston
Maternal support is an important factor in predicting outcomes following disclosure of child sexual abuse; however, definition of the construct has been unclear and existing measures of maternal support are utilized inconsistently and have limited psychometric data. The purpose of this study was to develop a reliable and valid mother-report measure for assessing maternal support following the disclosure of child sexual abuse.
Smith D. W., Sawyer, G. K., Jones, L. M., Cross, T. P., McCart, M. R., and Ralston M. E. (2010). Mother reports of maternal support following child sexual abuse: Preliminary psychometric data on the Maternal Self-Report Support Questionnaire (MSSQ). Child Abuse & Neglect, 34, 784-792.
Kinship Foster Care and the Risk of Juvenile Delinquency
Joseph Ryan, Jim Hong, Denise Herz, & Pedro Hernandez
Formal kinship care represents the placement of a maltreated or otherwise vulnerable youth in the care and protection of a known relative or adult with a recognized kin bond. The practice of identifying and utilizing kin placements in child welfare has significantly increased over the last two decades. In part, the increased use of kinship care reflects the priorities, preferences, and mechanisms specified in federal legislation. A fairly broad literature demonstrates the value of kin homes in child welfare. Yet significant gaps in the understanding of kin homes remain, especially with regard to youth outcomes across allied service systems. In the current study we use administrative records from a large urban county and propensity score matching to investigate the relationship between kinship care placements in child welfare and the risk of delinquency. The sample (n = 13,396) is diverse and our design is longitudinal in that we follow youth through child welfare and juvenile systems for several years. The results indicate that the relative risk of delinquency is significantly greater for African American and white male adolescents served in kin homes. For Hispanic males and Hispanic females, kin homes are associated with a decreased likelihood of delinquency. There is no kin placement effect associated with African American or white females.
Ryan, J. P., Hong, J. S., Herz, D., & Hernandez, P. M. (2010). Kinship foster care and the risk of juvenile delinquency. Children and Youth Services Review, 32, 1823-1830.
Delinquency in Child Welfare: Investigating Kinship Care Effects
Joseph P. Ryan, Pedro Hernandez, Jun-Sung Hong & Denise C. Herz
Formal kinship care represents the placement of a maltreated or otherwise vulnerable youth in the care and protection of a known relative or adult with a recognized kin bond. The practice of identifying and utilizing kin placements in child welfare has significantly increased over the last two decades. In part, the increased use of kinship care reflects the priorities, preferences, and mechanisms specified in federal legislation. A fairly broad literature demonstrates the value of kin homes in child welfare. Yet significant gaps in the understanding of kin homes remain, especially with regard to youth outcomes across allied service systems. In the current study we use administrative records from a large urban county and propensity score matching to investigate the relationship between kinship care placements in child welfare and the risk of delinquency. The sample (n = 13,396) is diverse and our design is longitudinal in that we follow youth through child welfare and juvenile systems for several years. The results indicate that the relative risk of delinquency is signficantly greater for African American and white male adolescents served in kin homes. For Hispanic males and Hispanic females, kin homes are associated with a decreased likelihood of delinquency. There is no kin placement effect associated with African American or white females.
Ryan, J. P., Hernandez, P., Hong, J., and Herz, D. (2010). Kinship foster care and the risk of juvenile delinquency. Children and Youth Services Review, 32, 1823-1830
Helping Former Foster Youth Graduate from College Through Campus Support Programs
Amy Dworsky & Alfred Perez
This exploratory study examines the implementation of campus support programs designed to provide financial, academic, and other types of supports to students who had aged out of foster care. Data were collected from program administrators and student participants in California and Washington State. Telephone interviews were conducted with 10 campus support program administrators that covered a variety of domains. Student participants from 8 of the 10 programs completed a web-based survey that asked about their perceptions of and experiences with the program. Recommendations for moving forward with a methodologically sound impact evaluation of campus support programs are discussed.
Dworsky, A., & Perez, A. (2010). Helping former foster youth graduate from college through campus support programs. Children and Youth Services Review, 32, 255-263.
Challenges Facing Crossover Youth: An Examination of Juvenile-Justice Decision Making and Recidivism
Denise C. Herz, Joseph P. Ryan, and Shay Bilchik
Although a substantial amount of research documents the increased likelihood of maltreated youths to engage in delinquency, very little is known about them once they cross into delinquency. These youths are often referred to as "crossover youth," "dual jurisdiction," or "dually involved" youth, and based on a growing amount of research, it appears these youths face a number of challenges. They have significant educational problems, high rates of placement changes and high rates of substance abuse and mental health problems, and when they enter the juvenile justice system, they are more likely to stay longer and penetrate deeper into the system then their nonmaltreated counterparts. Using data from Los Angeles County (N = 581), the purpose of this study is to identify what characteristics among a crossover population are more likely to result in receiving harsher dispositions and higher recidivism rates.
Herz, D.C., Ryan, J.P., & Bilchik, S. (2010). Challenges facing crossover youth: An examination of juvenile-justice decision making and recidivism. Family Court Review, 48, 305-321.
Non-Offending Caregiver and Youth Experiences with Child Sexual Abuse Investigations
Lisa M. Jones, Kathryn E. Atoro, Wendy A. Walsh, Theodore P. Cross, Amy L. Shadoin, Suzanne Magnuson
Qualitative responses by caregivers (n = 203) and youth (aged 8 and older; n = 65) about their experiences with sexual abuse investigations were analyzed in conjunction with quantitative ratings of satisfaction. Respondents described mostly high levels of satisfaction, although dissatisfaction was reported with some key aspects of investigations. The features cited as worse than expected by caregivers were the investigators' commitment to prosecuting the alleged offender and the absence of clear and regular communication about the status of the case. The features mentioned most often by caregivers as better than expected were the emotional support and interviewing skills of investigators. Youth focused both praise and criticism on investigators' interviewing skills. There were relatively few complaints by either caregivers or youth about the duration of the investigation, medical exams, lack of services, or failures of interagency communication, areas of considerable reform in the past several decades. Implications for investigator training and reform initiatives are discussed.
Jones, L. M., Atoro, K. E., Walsh, W. A., Cross, T. P., Shadoin, A. L., & Magnuson, S. (2010). Nonoffending caregiver and youth experiences with child sexual abuse investigations. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 25, 291-314.
Performance-Based Contracting in Residential Care and Treatment: Driving Policy and Practice Change Through Public-Private Partnership in Illinois
Kathleen A. Kearney, Erwin McEwen, Brice Bloom-Ellis & Neil Jordan
The National Quality Improvement Center on the Privatization of Child Welfare Services selected Illinois as a demonstration site in 2007 to evaluate performance-based contracting in residential treatment services. This article discusses the first two years of project implementation including developing residential treatment performance indicators, adjusting those indicators for risk at the provider level, and setting agency-specific benchmarks, as well as the project's fiscal foundation and related systemic improvements to support policy and practice change resulting from this initiative.
Kearney, K.A., McEwen, E., Bloom-Ellis, B., & Jordan, N. (2010). Performance-based contracting in residential care and treatment: Driving policy and practice change through public-private partnership in Illinois. Child Welfare, 89, 39-55.
Permanency Outcomes of Children in Kinship and Non-Kinship Foster Care: Testing the External Validity of Kinship Effects
The study investigates the permanency outcomes of children in kinship foster homes in comparison to children in non-kinship foster homes. To examine whether the effects of kinship placements are generalizable across states, the study utilizes the Adoption and Foster Care Analysis and Reporting System (AFCARS) data obtained for five states that participated in the Fostering Court Improvement project: Arizona, Connecticut, Missouri, Ohio, and Tennessee. The study also addresses the issue of selection biases with the use of propensity score matching (PSM) methods. A partially longitudinal file was created from the states' AFCARS 6-month submissions from March 2000 to September 2005. The PSM method created the matched samples of the study, balancing the mean covariates between kin and non-kin children. Analyses of survival times were conducted to investigate the permanency outcomes of children in kinship and non-kinship foster homes, using unmatched and matched samples. In the study, permanency outcomes include legal permanence and placement stability. The study finds that the direction and the size of kinship effects vary across the states with respect to the outcome of legal permanence, but positive advantages of kinship placements are reported for placement stability in all five states. Implications of the findings for practice and policy are discussed.
Koh, E. (2010). Permanency outcomes of children in kinship and non-kinship foster care: Testing the external validity of kinship effects. Children and Youth Services Review, 33, 389-398.
Suspect Confession of Child Sexual Abuse to Investigators
Tonya Lippert, Theodore Cross, Lisa Jones, & Wendy Walsh
Increasing the number of suspects who give true confessions of sexual abuse serves justice and reduces the burden of the criminal justice process on child victims. With data from four communities, this study examined confession rates and predictors of confession of child sexual abuse over the course of criminal investigations (final N = 282). Overall, 30% of suspects confessed partially or fully to the crime. This rate was consistent across the communities and is very similar to the rates of suspect confession of child sexual abuse found by previous research, although lower than that from a study focused on a community with a vigorous practice of polygraph testing. In a multivariate analysis, confession was more likely when suspects were younger and when more evidence of abuse was available, particularly child disclosure and corroborative evidence. These results suggest the difficulty of obtaining confession but also the value of methods that facilitate child disclosure and seek corroborative evidence, for increasing the odds of confession.
Lippert, T., Cross, T. P., Jones, L., & Walsh, W. (2010). Suspect confession of child sexual abuse to investigators. Child Maltreatment, 15, 161-170.
Transitioning from Informal to Formal Substitute Care Following Maltreatment Investigation
Park, J.M. & Helton, J.
This study examined associated factors of placement into formal substitute care following a maltreatment investigation and the relationship between children's entry into formal substitute care and changes in caregivers. The sample from the National Survey of Child and Adolescent Well-Being included 3038 children who lived with biological parents or were placed in informal kinship and non-kinship care at the close of investigation. Placement in informal kinship and non-kinship care following a maltreatment investigation, younger age of a child, previous CPS reports, and poverty status were associated with greater odds of subsequent entry into formal substitute care. Informal kinship care following an investigation appears to be a placeholder and many of the children in such an arrangement are incorporated into the formal substitute care system. The transition from informal to formal substitute care, however, does not necessarily mean a disruption in children's placement. It can be beneficial to start foster parent training at an early stage of the assessment and preparation process for informal kin and non-kin caregivers because many of them are to become foster caregivers. It may also be advantageous to develop a standardized tool to assess informal caregivers' service needs, and make training and support services responsive to those particular needs.
Park, J. M., & Helton, J. (2010). Transitioning from informal to formal substitute care following maltreatment investigation. Children and Youth Services Review, 32, 998-1003.
Low-Income Single Mothers' Community Violence Exposure and Aggressive Parenting Practices
Saijun Zhang & Steve Anderson
This study examined the association between maternal community violence exposure and parenting practices, with a sample of low-income single mothers from the Fragile Families and Child Well-Being Study (FFCW) and related in-home child survey. Psychologically aggressive and physically aggressive parenting practices were measured with two subscales derived from the Parent-Child Conflict Tactics Scales (CTSPC). Community violence exposure was measured with items indicating being a witness to or victim of community violence. Bivariate analysis indicated that the intensity of community violence exposure was positively associated with both types of aggressive parenting practices. In the multivariate analysis, mothers with moderate and high levels of community violence exposure were 2.1 times and 2.4 times, respectively, more likely to engage in a higher level of physically aggressive parenting, when compared to mothers with no exposure to violence. Such rates were 1.7 and 1.8 times higher with respect to psychologically aggressive parenting practices. The findings highlight the need for expanding research to better understand the association between community violence and the wellbeing of children and families, and suggest the importance of supporting low-income single mothers who have been exposed to community violence through effective parenting programs and other community social services.
Zhang, S., & Anderson, S. G. (2010). Low-income single mothers' community violence exposure and aggressive parenting practices. Children and Youth Services Review, 32, 889-895.
Prevalence, Trajectories, and Risk Factors for Depression Recurrence Among Caregivers of Young Children Involved in Child Maltreatment Investigations
Cecilia Casanueva, Theodore Cross, Heather Ringeisen & Sharon Christ
This study examines depression among caregivers of young children involved in investigations of child maltreatment, in terms of 12-month prevalence of depression across 5 to 6 years. Data were from the National Survey of Child and Adolescent Well-Being, a national probability study of 5,501 children investigated for maltreatment. The study sample comprised 1,244 female caregivers (95.5% biological mothers) of children not placed out of home and younger than 5 years old. About a quarter of caregivers had, at any given point, a score indicating major depression in the previous 12 months; across all follow-ups, 46% of caregivers had a score indicating major depression at some point. Depression was associated with caregivers' report of intimate-partner violence and fair or poor health status. Caregivers of maltreated children are at substantial risk for depression that does not diminish over the course of 5 years. Assessing and providing assistance for intimate-partner violence and health problems may help decrease depression prevalence.
Casanueva, C., Cross, T.P., Ringeisen, H. and Christ, S. (2010). Prevalence, trajectories, and risk factors for depression recurrence among caregivers of young children involved in child maltreatment investigations. Journal of Emotional and Behavioral Disorders, 19, 98-116.
Brokering Language and Culture: Can Ad-hoc Interpreters Fill the Language Service Gap at Community Health Centers?
Christopher R. Larrison, Daniel Velez-Ortiz, Pedro M. Hernandez , Lissette M. Piedra & Andrea Goldberg
The purpose of the research was to explore the ability of ad hoc interpreters to integrate into the organizational climate at a federally qualified community health clinic (CHC) and create satisfactory services for limited-English-proficiency clients. Survey and interview data were gathered from staff (n D 17) and Latino clients (n D 30). The data indicate that clients felt satisfied with interpreters. Some friction existed between the interpreters and the medical staff due to incongruent expectations. The CHC's organizational climate and the interpreters' commitment to the Latino community mediated the impact of these tensions on services and satisfaction. The study offers important insight into how ad hoc interpreters can become professional medical interpreters within a limited-resource service environment.
Larrison, C., Velez-Ortiz, D., Hernandez, P., Piedra, L. M., and Goldberg, A. (2010). Brokering language and culture: Can ad-hoc interpreters fill the language service gap at community health centers? Social Work in Public Health, 25, 387-407.
Delivery of Mental Health Services for a State's Population of Children in Foster Care: A Comparison of Illinois and National Data
Ted Cross and Christina Bruhn
States play a major role in providing mental health services for children in foster care, but previous research uses either local or national samples. Using 2003 and 2005 data, the present study compares children in foster care in Illinois and nationally on mental health need and service receipt. Caregivers completed measures of children's mental health problems and service receipt and youths completed selfreport measures of mental health problems. From 46.5% to 55.9% of Illinois children and youth in foster care scored in the clinical or borderline clinical range on a caregiver measure of children's mental health, comparable to national rates. Children and youth selfreported lower rates of mental health problems both in Illinois and nationally. Though sizable proportions used mental health services across samples, Illinois children in foster care were significantly less likely to receive a range of different mental health services than children in foster care nationally. Challenges to service delivery for Illinois children in foster care and recent service improvements are reviewed in this and a companion paper.
Cross, T.P. & Bruhn, C. (2010). Delivery of mental health services for a state's population of children in foster care: A comparison of Illinois and national data. Illinois Child Welfare, 5, 87-107.
Prosecuting Child Sexual Abuse: The Importance of Evidence Type
Wendy A. Walsh, Lisa M. Jones, Theodore P. Cross, Tonya Lippert
Corroborating evidence has been associated with a decrease in children's distress during the court process, yet few studies have empirically examined the impact of evidence type on prosecution rates. This study examined the types of evidence and whether charges were filed in a sample of child sexual abuse cases (n = 329). Cases with a child disclosure, a corroborating witness, an offender confession, or an additional report against the offender were more likely to have charges filed, controlling for case characteristics. When cases were lacking strong evidence (confession, physical evidence, eyewitness), cases with a corroborating witness were nearly twice as likely to be charged. Charged cases tended to have at least two types of evidence, regardless of whether there was a child disclosure or not.
Walsh, W.A., L.M. Jones, Cross, T.P., & Lippert, T. (2010). Prosecuting child sexual abuse: The importance of evidence type. Crime & Delinquency, 56, 436-454.
Mental Health and Special Education Services at School Entry for Children Who Were Involved with the Child Welfare System as Infants
Ringeisen, H., Casanueva, C., Cross, T.P. & Urato, M.
This study examines mental health and special education needs and service use at school entry among children involved in maltreatment investigations as infants. Data are from the National Survey of Child and Adolescent Well-Being, a national probability study of 5,501 children investigated for maltreatment. The study sample comprised 959 children who were infants at baseline and 5 to 6 years old at the last follow-up. Half had behavioral or cognitive needs at entry to school. About a quarter received outpatient mental health or special education services. Logistic regression showed that compared to children residing with biological parents, adopted and foster children were more likely to receive mental health services, and children adopted or in kinship care were more likely to receive educational services. Increased monitoring of behavioral and cognitive needs of infants reported for maltreatment may facilitate their access to services and ease the transition to school.
Ringeisen, H., Casanueva, C., Cross, T. P., & Urato, M. (2009). Mental health and special education services at school entry for children who were involved with the child welfare system as infants. Journal of Emotional and Behavioral Disorders, 17, 177-192.
Effectiveness and Limitations of the Earned Income Tax Credit for Reducing Child Poverty in the United States
Mary Keegan Eamon, Chi-Fang Wu & Saijun Zhang
Based on international comparisons, the United States has a high child poverty rate. The Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), which provides a tax benefit to low-income working households and was expanded after the 1990s welfare reform, is currently this country's largest cash transfer program for low-income families with children. This article examines the historical components of the EITC. We then analyze the program's child poverty reduction effectiveness by comparing the percent and percentage point declines in the child poverty rate accounted for by the EITC benefit for six years between 1996 and 2005. Figures for the first four years were drawn from previous studies, while figures for the final two years were estimated with a U.S. Census Bureau calculator. All of the analyses used Current Population Survey data. We determined that the percent decline in the child poverty rate attributed to the EITC generally increased during this period (highest percent was 19.5 in 2005), while the percentage point decline remained relatively stable. We then critically examine four poverty reduction assumptions of the EITC that limit its ability to further reduce child poverty and draw social policy implications.
Eamon, M. K., Wu, C., & Zhang, S. (2009). Effectiveness and limitations of the earned income tax credit for reducing child poverty in the united states. Children and Youth Services Review, 31, 919-926.
Substantiation and Maltreatment Re-Reporting: A Propensity Score Analysis
Tamara Fuller, Martin Nieto
Although it is a widely used indicator, the use of substantiation in child welfare practice and research is not without critics. Much of this criticism concerns the ability of the substantiation disposition to distinguish between child protective services (CPS) investigations in which maltreatment occurs or does not occur. This study examined the relationship between substantiation and maltreatment rereporting using an analytic technique known as propensity score matching (PSM). Children with initially substantiated maltreatment reports were at significantly higher risk for rereporting than those with initially unsubstantiated reports, even after matching the two groups on propensity scores based on several demographic and case characteristics. Although additional study using PSM on other samples is warranted, this evidence supports the predictive validity of the substantiation disposition and its continued use as one factor to consider when allocating limited post-investigation services.
Fuller, T., & Nieto, M. (2009). Substantiation and maltreatment re-reporting: A propensity score analysis. Child Maltreatment, 14, 27-37.
Telling Interviewers About Sexual Abuse: Predictors of Disclosure at Forensic Interviews
Tonya Lippert, Theodore Cross, Lisa Jones, & Wendy Walsh
This study aims to identify characteristics that predict full disclosure by victims of sexual abuse during a forensic interview. Data came from agency files for 987 cases of sexual abuse between December 2001 and December 2003 from Children's Advocacy Centers (CACs) and comparison communities within four U.S. states. Cases of children fully disclosing abuse when interviewed were compared to cases of children believed to be victims who gave no or partial disclosures. The likelihood of disclosure increased when victims were girls, a primary caregiver was supportive, and a child's disclosure instigated the investigation. The likelihood of disclosure was higher for children who were older at abuse onset and at forensic interview (each age variable having an independent effect). Communities differed on disclosure rate, with no difference associated with having a CAC. Findings suggest factors deserving consideration prior to a forensic interview, including organizational and community factors affecting disclosure rates.
Lippert, T., Cross,T.P., Jones, L. & Walsh, W. (2009). Telling interviewers about sexual abuse: Predictors of disclosure at forensic interviews. Child Maltreatment, 14, 100-113.
The Beliefs of Resilient African-American Adolescent Mothers Transitioning from Foster Care to Independent Living: A Case-Based Analysis
Wendy Haight, Dayna Finet, Sachiko Bamba, & Jesse Helton
This study presents the beliefs of three resilient African-American adolescent mothers transitioning from foster care into independent living in Illinois. Young mothers were followed for at least seven months as they participated in an innovative writing workshop for older foster youth. During this time, youth repeatedly initiated discussions of parenting while in foster care. Videotaped observations of workshops, in-depth, semi-structured individual interviews, and youth writing assignments yielded rich materials pertaining to parenting while in foster care. Young women identified a number of common challenges including financial difficulties, the pressure of meeting multiple obligations, stigma, and the negativity of some caseworkers. They also articulated cultural beliefs and practices which may support resilience. These included: the positive value placed on children and motherhood, spirituality, "other mothers" and various sources of community support, and an oppositional gaze. Implications for child welfare research and practice are discussed.
Haight, W.L., Finet, D., Bamba, S., & Helton, J. (2009). The beliefs of resilient African-American adolescent mothers transitioning from foster care to independent living: A case-based analysis. Children and Youth Services Review, 31, 53-62.
Families Who Begin and Decline Therapy for Children Who Are Sexually Abused
Tonya Lippert, Tricia Favre, Cindy Alexander, and Ted Cross
The objective of this study was to identify child characteristics, factors related to the therapy referral, and caregivers’ psychological and social variables that predict sexually abused children’s beginning therapy following a therapy referral.
Lippert, T., Favre, T., Alexander, C. & Cross, T.P. (2008). Families who begin and decline therapy for children who are sexually abused. Child Abuse & Neglect, 32, 859-868
Special Health Care Needs Among Children in Child Welfare
Heather Ringeisen, Cecilia Casanueva, Mathew Urato & Theodore Cross
The aim of this study was to determine levels of special health care need among children in the child welfare system and how these needs may affect children's functioning. Data were from the National Survey of Child and Adolescent Well-being, a national probability study of children investigated for child maltreatment. The sample consisted of 5496 children aged 0 to 15 years at baseline. For analysis, we used descriptive statistics to determine special health care needs and children's functioning from baseline to 3-year follow-up. Logistic regression was used to examine correlates of special health care needs.
Ringeisen, H. , Casanueva, C. Urato, M.,& Cross, T.P. (2008). Special health care needs among children in child welfare. Pediatrics, 122, 232-241.
Crisis Nursery Outcomes for Caregivers Served at Multiple Sites in Illinois
Susan Cole, Pedro Hernandez
Using administrative data collected by five crisis nurseries in Illinois, outcomes for individual caregivers accessing services were examined. Results showed caregivers generally reported improved outcomes in a number of domains after receiving crisis nursery services.
Cole, S.A., & Hernandez, P.M. (2008). Crisis nursery outcomes for caregivers served at multiple sites in Illinois. Children and Youth Services Review, 30, 452-465.
Recovery Coaches and Substance Exposure at Birth
Joseph Ryan, Sam Choi, Jun Sung Hong, Pedro Hernandez, Christopher Larrison
Substance exposed infants present a major challenge to child welfare and public health systems. Prenatal substance exposure and continued substance abuse in the home are associated with a wide range of adverse social, emotional, and developmental outcomes. The objective of the current study is to evaluate the use of recovery coaches in child welfare. The current study is longitudinal and utilizes an experimental design. The sample includes 931 substance abusing women enrolled in a Title IV-E Waiver Demonstration, 261 in the control group, and 670 in the experimental group. Women in the experimental group received traditional services plus the services of a recovery coach. Administrative records are used to indicate substance exposure at birth. Of the 931 women enrolled in the waiver demonstration, 21% of the control group and 15% of the experimental group were associated with a subsequent substantiated allegation indicating substance exposure at birth. Cox proportional hazards modeling indicates that women in the experimental group were significantly less likely to be associated with a new substance exposed birth.The use of recovery coaches in child welfare significantly decreases the risk of substance exposure at birth. Integrated and comprehensive approaches are necessary for addressing the complex and co-occurring needs of families involved with child protection.
Ryan, J. P., Choi, S., Hong, J., Hernandez, P. & Larrison, C. (2008). Recovery coaches and substance exposure at birth. Child Abuse and Neglect, 32, 1072-1079.
African American Youth in Foster Care and the Risk of Delinquency: The Value of Social Bonds and Permanence
Joseph Ryan, Mark Testa, & Fuhua Zhai
Juvenile delinquency remains a significant problem for child welfare systems throughout the United States. Victims of child abuse and neglect are more likely relative to children in the general population to engage in delinquency (Ryan & Testa, 2005; Widom, 1989). Although the magnitude of this relationship is not fully understood (Zingraff, Leiter, Myers, & Johnsen, 1993), the risk of delinquency is particularly high for African American males, adolescents, and children in substitute care settings. Unfortunately, little is known about the factors that connect the experiences of maltreatment and delinquency. This lack of knowledge makes it nearly impossible to decrease the risk of delinquency for children in foster care. To improve the understanding of juvenile delinquency in the child welfare system, the current study tests aspects of social control theory within the context of foster care. We focus specifically on the effects of foster parent--foster child attachment, commitment, and permanence. The results indicate that strong levels of attachment decrease the risk of delinquency for youth in foster care. Involvement with religious organizations also decreases the risk of delinquency. In contrast, perceptions of placement instability, placement with relatives, and school suspensions are associated with an increased risk of delinquency.
Ryan, J. P., Testa, M. F., & Zhai, F. (2008). African American youth in foster care and the risk of delinquency: The value of social bonds and permanence. Child Welfare, 87, 115-140.
Developmental Needs and Individualized Family Service Plans Among Infants and Toddlers in the Child Welfare System
Cecilia E. Casanueva, Theodore P. Cross & Heather Ringeisen
This study examines levels of developmental need in young children investigated by child protective services, estimates early intervention service use, and examines need and service use variations during the 5-6 years after investigation on the basis of maltreatment substantiation status. Data were from the National Survey of Child and Adolescent Well-Being, the first nationally representative study of children investigated for maltreatment. The sample comprised 1,845 children aged 0 to 36 months at baseline. Logistic regression with covariate adjustment was used to examine the relationship between having an Individualized Family Service Plan (IFSP; a proxy and marker of early intervention services through Part C of the Individuals With Disabilities Education Act) and substantiation status. A high prevalence of developmental problems was found among children with substantiated cases and children with unsubstantiated cases. Few children with developmental needs had an IFSP. Substantiation status and level of child welfare system involvement were significantly associated with having an IFSP.
Casanueva, C., Cross, T.P. & Ringeisen, H. (2008). Developmental needs and individualized family service plans among infants and toddlers in the child welfare system. Child Maltreatment, 13, 245-258.
How Long to Prosecute Child Sexual Abuse for a Community Using a Children’s Advocacy Center and Two Comparison Communities?
Wendy A. Walsh, Tonya Lippert, Theodore P. Cross, Danielle M. Maurice and Karen S. Davison
This article explores the length of time between key events in the criminal prosecution of child sexual abuse cases (charging decision, case resolution process, and total case-processing time), which previous research suggests is related to victims' recovery. The sample included 160 cases in three communities served by the Dallas County District Attorney. Most cases (69%) took at least 60 days for the charging decision, with cases investigated at the Children's Advocacy Center having a quicker time than either comparison community. Only 20% of cases had a case resolution time within the 180-day target suggested by the American Bar Association standard for felonies. Controlling for case characteristics, one of the three communities and cases with an initial arrest had a significantly quicker case resolution time. Total case processing generally took more than 2 years. Implications include the need to better monitor and shorten case resolution time.
Walsh, W., Lippert, T., Cross, T., Maurice, D. & Davison, K. (2008). How long to prosecute child sexual abuse for a community using a children’s advocacy center and two comparison communities? Child Maltreatment, 13, 3-13.
Juvenile Delinquency in Child Welfare: Investigating Group Home Effects
Ryan, J. P., Marshall, J. M., Herz, D., & Hernandez, P.
Group homes fall into the broad category of residential care, a category that also includes half-way homes, campus based homes, emergency shelters, self-contained settings, and staff secured setting. In general, residential care services represent an option of last resort. In the current study we use administrative records from a large urban county and propensity score matching to investigate the relationship between group home placements in child welfare and the risk of delinquency (n=8226). The results indicate that the relative risk of delinquency is approximately two and one half times greater for adolescents with at least one group home placement as compared with youth in foster care settings. This finding raises serious questions about the use of group homes for victims of physical abuse and neglect.
Ryan, J. P., Marshall, J. M., Herz, D., & Hernandez, P. (2008). Juvenile delinquency in child welfare: investigating group home effects. Children and Youth Services Review, 30, 1088-1099.
A Child's-Eye View of Methamphetamine Abuse: Implications for Helping Foster Families to Succeed
Wendy Haight, Teresa Ostler, James Black, Kathryn Sheridan, Linda Kingery
This report focuses on the experiences and perspectives of rural, Midwestern children aged 7-14 years who were involved with the public child welfare system because of their parents' methamphetamine abuse. Eighteen children participated in semi structured, in-depth interviews focusing on their families of origin. Children reported exposure not only to their parents' and non-kin adults' methamphetamine and other substance abuse, but also to a constellation of activities related to drug use or drug- seeking behavior; including violence within their homes and other criminal behavior. Children responded to the contexts in which they were reared in a variety of ways, including accepting or actively resisting socialization messages that normalized substance abuse. The majority of children described involvement with law enforcement and child welfare as a "sad" and "scary" time in their families. Far from embracing their placement within safe and stable families, many children continued to express sadness, distress, and resistance to legal and child welfare interventions, even after months in foster care. Implications for facilitating the adjustment of children to foster care and beyond are discussed, including providing foster parents with support and information about the contexts in which children have been reared and children's understanding of those contexts so that they may interpret and respond to challenges that may emerge.
Haight, W., Ostler, T., Black, J., Sheridan, K., & Kingery, L. (2007). A child's-eye view of parent methamphetamine abuse: Implications for helping foster families to succeed. Children and Youth Services Review, 29, 1-15.
Striving for Excellence: Extending Child Welfare Performance Based Contracting to Residential, Independent and Transitional Living Programs in Illinois
Kathleen A. Kearney & Erwin McEwen
Performance-based contracting for foster care case management services has been in effect in Illinois since 1997. It is credited with reducing the number of children and youth in out-of home placement by over 65% in the last decade. Despite the success of this initiative in moving over 34,000 children into permanency homes, Illinois failed to achieve substantial conformity on any of the sever child welfare outcome measures in its 2003 Child and Family Service Review (CFSR). This article discusses the history of performance-based contracting in Illinois, lessons learned from foster-care case management contracting; the challenges in expanding this initiative to residential, independent living, and transitional living programs; the planning and implementation process used; and the proposed evaluation design.
Kearney, K.A. & McEwen, E. (2007). Striving for Excellence: Extending child welfare performance based contracting to residential, Independent and Transitional Living programs in Illinois. Professional Development: The International Journal of Continuing Social Work Education, 10, 32-48.
Do Children's Advocacy Centers Improve Families' Experiences of Child Sexual Abuse Investigations?
Lisa M. Jones, Theodore P. Cross, Wendy A. Walsh & Monique Simone
The Children's Advocacy Center (CAC) model of child abuse investigation is designed to be more child and family-friendly than traditional methods, but there have been no rigorous studies of their effect on children's and caregivers' experience. Data collected as part of the Multi-Site Evaluation of Children's Advocacy Centers were used to examine whether CACs improve caregivers' and children's satisfaction with investigations. Nonoffending caregiver and child satisfaction were assessed during research interviews, including the administration of a 14-item Investigation Satisfaction Scale (ISS) for caregivers. Two hundred and twenty-nine sexual abuse cases investigated through a CAC were compared to 55 cases investigated in communities with no CAC. Hierarchical linear regression results indicated that caregivers in CAC cases were more satisfied with the investigation than those from comparison sites, even after controlling for a number of relevant variables. There were few differences between CAC and comparison samples on children's satisfaction. Children described moderate to high satisfaction with the investigation, while a minority expressed concerns about their experience. The CAC model shows promise for improving families' experiences, but to build upon this promise, agencies will need to systematize procedures for refining and adapting the model as new research becomes available.
Jones, L.M., Cross, T.P., Walsh, W. & Simone, M. (2007). Do Children's Advocacy Centers improve families' experiences of child sexual abuse investigations? Child Abuse & Neglect, 31, 1069-1085.
Child Forensic Interviewing in Children's Advocacy Centers: Empirical Data on a Practice Model
Theodore P. Cross , Lisa M. Jones, Wendy A. Walsh, Monique Simone, David Kolko
Children's Advocacy Centers (CACs) aim to improve child forensic interviewing following allegations of child abuse by coordinating multiple investigations, providing child-friendly interviewing locations, and limiting redundant interviewing. This analysis presents one of the first rigorous evaluations of CACs' implementation of these methods. This analysis is part of a quasi-experimental study, the Multi-Site Evaluation of Children's Advocacy Centers, which evaluated four CACs relative to within-state non-CAC comparison communities. Case abstractors collected data on investigation methods in 1,069 child sexual abuse cases with forensic interviews by reviewing case records from multiple agencies. CAC cases were more likely than comparison cases to feature police involvement in CPS cases (41% vs. 15%), multidisciplinary team (MDT) interviews (28% vs. 6%), case reviews (56% vs. 7%), joint police/child protective services (CPS) investigations (81% vs. 52%) and video/audiotaping of interviews (52% vs. 17%, all these comparisons p < .001). CACs varied in which coordination methods they used, and some comparison communities also used certain coordination methods more than the CAC with which they were paired. Eighty-five percent of CAC interviews took place in child-friendly CAC facilities, while notable proportions of comparison interviews took place at CPS offices (22%), police facilities (18%), home (16%), or school (19%). Ninety-five percent of children had no more than two forensic interviews, and CAC and comparison differences on number of interviews were mostly non-significant. Relative to the comparison communities, these CACs appear to have increased coordination on investigations and child forensic interviewing. The CAC setting was the location for the vast majority of CAC child interviews, while comparison communities often used settings that many consider undesirable. CACs showed no advantage on reducing the number of forensic interviews, which was consistently small across the sample.
Cross, T.P., Jones, L., Walsh, W., Simone, M. & Kolko, D. (2007). Child forensic interviewing in children's advocacy centers: Empirical data on a practice model. Child Abuse & Neglect, 31, 1031-1052.
Which Sexual Abuse Victims Receive a Forensic Medical Examination? The Impact of Children's Advocacy Centers
Wendy Walsh, Theodore Cross, Lisa Jones, Monique Simone, & David Kolko
This study examines the impact of Children's Advocacy Centers (CAC) and other factors, such as the child's age, alleged penetration, and injury on the use of forensic medical examinations as part of the response to reported child sexual abuse. This analysis is part of a quasi-experimental study, the Multi-Site Evaluation of Children's Advocacy Centers, which evaluated four CACs relative to within-state non-CAC comparison communities. Case abstractors collected data on forensic medical exams in 1,220 child sexual abuse cases through review of case records. Suspected sexual abuse victims at CACs were two times more likely to have forensic medical examinations than those seen at comparison communities, controlling for other variables. Girls, children with reported penetration, victims who were physically injured while being abused, White victims, and younger children were more likely to have exams, controlling for other variables. Non-penetration cases at CACs were four times more likely to receive exams as compared to those in comparison communities. About half of exams were conducted the same day as the reported abuse in both CAC and comparison communities. The majority of caregivers were very satisfied with the medical professional. Receipt of a medical exam was not associated with offenders being charged. Results of this study suggest that CACs are an effective tool for furthering access to forensic medical examinations for child sexual abuse victims.
Walsh, W., Cross, T.P. , Jones, L., Simone, M. & Kolko, D. (2007). Which sexual abuse victims receive a forensic medical examination? The impact of children's advocacy centers. Child Abuse & Neglect, 31, 1053-1068.
Developmental Trajectories of Offending for Adolescents Aging out of Foster Care
Joseph P. Ryan, Pedro Hernandez & Denise C. Herz
The difficulties that adolescents encounter as they age out of the foster care system are numerous and fairly well documented. Such difficulties include poor health, lack of affordable housing, low-wage employment, limited educational opportunities, and unreliable or nonexistent familial support. These difficulties often increase the likelihood of a wide variety of negative outcomes. One such outcome is involvement with juvenile justice and adult corrections. Adolescents aging out of foster care are at an increased risk of engaging in delinquency and crime. Unfortunately, little is known about the developmental trajectories of such juvenile and adult offending for the foster care population. The present study addresses this gap in the literature. Using a semiparametric group-based modeling approach, the authors identify three unique offending trajectories among 294 male adolescents leaving a large Midwestern foster care agency: nonoffenders, early onset desisters, and chronic offenders. Using multinomial logistic regression, they then identify a variety of risk and protective factors associated with each development trajectory. Placement stability and school enrollment emerge as two of the most important predictors.
Ryan, J. P., Hernandez, P. M., & Herz, D. (2007). Developmental trajectories of offending for adolescents aging out of foster care. Social Work Research, 31, 83-93.
Maltreatment and Delinquency: Investigating Child Welfare Bias in Juvenile Justice Processing
Joseph Ryan, Denise Herz, Pedro Hernandez & Jane Marshall
There is at least thirty years of research that focuses on the increased risk of delinquency associated with child maltreatment. Yet there are few studies that investigate the outcomes associated with victims of child abuse and neglect beyond the initial arrest. Using child welfare and juvenile justice administrative data from Los Angeles County, the current study investigates the relationship between child welfare status and two judicial outcomes: case dismissal and probation. The results indicate that delinquency cases originating in child welfare are less likely to receive probation, controlling for a wide range of factors including age, gender, race, and type of offense. The results also indicate that the child welfare system is a significant source of overrepresentation for African American youth in juvenile justice. Adolescents simultaneously involved with child welfare and juvenile justice may require alternative arrangements with regard to juvenile justice dispositions and placements.
Ryan, J. P., Herz, D., Hernandez, P. & Marshall, J. (2007). Maltreatment and delinquency: investigating child welfare bias in juvenile justice processing. Children and Youth Services Review, 29, 1035-1050.
Completing Substance Abuse Treatment in Child Welfare: The Role of Co-Occurring Problems and Primary Drug of Choice
Sam Choi, Joseph Ryan
A significant number of substance-abusing parents in the child welfare system do not complete substance abuse treatments. Consequently, their children experience longer stays in substitute care settings, and the risk of the termination of parental rights is increased. This study identifies and determines the specific factors that explain the completion of substance abuse treatment for substance-abusing caregivers in child welfare. The sample includes 871 caregivers enrolled in the Illinois Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse waiver demonstration. Approximately 22% of these caregivers successfully completed all required levels of substance abuse treatment. The multivariate models indicate that age, employment status, and legal involvement were significantly associated with the likelihood of completing substance abuse treatment. Heroin users were significantly less likely to complete treatment as compared with alcohol, cocaine, and marijuana users. The findings are discussed in terms of policy and practice implications for public child welfare systems.
Choi, S., & Ryan, J.P. (2006). Completing substance abuse treatment in child welfare: The role of co-occurring problems and primary drug of choice. Child Maltreatment, 11, 313-325.
Supporting Battered Women and Their Children: Perspectives of Battered Mothers and Child Welfare Professionals
Woochan Shim, Wendy Haight
This qualitative study explores the perspectives of child welfare professionals and battered women involved in the public child welfare system about interventions that support battered women and their children. In-depth, semi-structured, individual interviews with 17 mothers and 20 professionals revealed both converging and diverging perspectives on services provided by the public child welfare system. Both mothers and professionals stressed the importance of the provision of materially and emotionally supportive services, especially after women had severed their violent relationships. Mothers' and professionals' beliefs were discrepant in areas of family support; particularly, the appropriateness of focusing primarily on mothers and developing safety plans that separated the couple. Services that assume battered mothers have limited parenting capabilities, such as taking custody of a child and referring mothers to basic parenting classes, were controversial topics receiving some support and some criticism from both mothers and professionals. Findings suggest possible needs of battered women involved in the child welfare system, as well as topics requiring greater communication between mothers and child welfare professionals.
Shim, W., & Haight, W.L. (2006). Supporting battered women and their children: Perspectives of battered mothers and child welfare professionals. Children and Youth Services Review, 28, 620-637.
Integrating Substance Abuse Treatment and Child Welfare Services: Findings from the Illinois Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse Waiver Demonstration
Joseph Ryan, Jeanne Marsh, Mark Testa, Dick Louderman
Alcohol and other drug abuse is a major problem for children and families involved with public child welfare. Substance abuse compromises appropriate parenting practices and increases the risk of child maltreatment. A substantial proportion of substantiated child abuse and neglect reports involve parental substance abuse. Once in the system, children of substance-abusing families experience significantly longer stays in foster care and significantly lower rates of reunification. To address these problems, child welfare systems are developing service integration models that incorporate both substance abuse and child welfare services. This study provides an initial examination of the effectiveness of one service integration model that emphasizes the provision of intensive case management to link substance abuse and child welfare services. The authors used an experimental design and focused particular attention on two outcomes: access to substance abuse services and family reunification.The findings indicate that the families assigned to the experimental group used substance abuse services at a significantly higher rate and were more likely to achieve family reunification than were families in the control group.
Ryan, J.P., Marsh, J.C., Testa, M.F., & Louderman, R. (2006). Integrating substance abuse treatment and child welfare services: Findings from the Illinois alcohol and other drug abuse waiver demonstration. Social Work Research, 30, 95-107.
Testing the Effects of Caseworker Characteristics in Child Welfare
Joseph P. Ryan, Philip Garnier, Michael Zyphur, Fuhua Zhai
While it is widely accepted that the biological parent(s), the foster or adoptive parent(s) and the child all have a role in explaining child welfare outcomes, a fourth player - the caseworker - may have an equally influential role in affecting child outcomes. Caseworkers can influence the nature, amount, and quality of benefits and sanctions provided by their agencies, as well as the eligibility of clients for services, and can maneuver through the system in a way that has the most direct effect on clients. This paper investigates the role of caseworkers in determining outcomes in the child welfare system. We develop and test a variety of multi-level and multiple membership models to better understand the association between caseworker characteristics and child welfare outcomes. Specifically, we focus attention on the relationship between the number of caseworkers assigned to each child (i.e., turnover), the racial match between the child and the caseworker, and the role of graduate education (possession of an MSW) -- on a child's length of stay in the child welfare system and family reunification.
Ryan, J. P., Garnier, P., Zyphur, M. & Zhai, F. (2006). Testing the effects of caseworker characteristics in child welfare. Children and Youth Services Review, 28, 993-1006.
Ethnicity in Child Maltreatment Research: A Replication of Behl et al.'s Content Analysis
Alisa B. Miller & Theodore Cross
This study examines the use of ethnicity in 489 empirical research articles published in three major child maltreatment specialty journals from 1999 to 2002. Of the American samples, 12.5% focus on ethnicity, 76.2% report the ethnic composition of participants, and 33.8% use ethnicity of participants in analyses. Ethnicity has a significant effect in 52.3% of articles in which it was used in analyses, suggesting its importance as a variable in a wide range of studies. African Americans and Native Americans are underrepresented in research samples. These findings indicate more attention to ethnicity in American research than Behl, Crouch, May, Valente, and Conyngham's 2001 study might suggest but also highlight the need for continued expansion in focusing on, reporting, and using ethnicity in research.
Miller, A.B. & Cross, T.P. (2006). Ethnicity in child maltreatment research: A replication of Behl et al.'s content analysis. Child Maltreatment, 11, 16-26.
Integrated Services for Families With Multiple Problems: Obstacles to Family Reunification
Jeanne Marsh, Joseph Ryan, Sam Choi, Mark Testa
Child welfare clients with co-occurring problems are recognized as clients who have difficulty achieving positive child welfare outcomes. The current study focuses on families in the child welfare system with co-occurring problems and the impact of such problems on the likelihood of reunification. The current study contributes to the literature on service integration by examining whether it is necessary to go beyond assessment and service access to insure families make progress in each co-occurring problem area to achieve reunification. The sample is comprised of 724 substance-abusing families enrolled in the Illinois Title IV-E Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse (AODA) Waiver Demonstration. Data on client progress consisted of provider ratings completed quarterly to track progress related to problems of substance abuse, domestic violence, housing and mental health. The findings indicate that progress in resolving co-occurring problem areas does increase the likelihood of achieving family reunification. Thus, the provision of the child welfare service model alone is insufficient. In order for child welfare systems to increase reunification rates, services must target the specific needs of individual families and assist them in achieving progress within co-occurring problem areas. Successful integrated service programs must identify the range of specific problems that clients are dealing with and insure that they address and resolve these problems in order to increase the likelihood of family reunification.
Marsh, J.C., Ryan, J.P., Choi, S. & Testa, M. (2006). Integrated services for families with multiple problems: Obstacles to family reunification. Children and Youth Services Review, 28, 1074-1087.
Enhancing Parent-Child Interaction During Foster Care Visits: Experimental Assessment of an Intervention
Wendy Haight, Sarah Manglesdorph, James Black, Margaret Szewczyk, Sarah Schoppe, Grace Giorgio, Karen Madrigal, Lakshmi Tata
Mothers of young children recently placed in foster care participated in an intervention to enhance parent-child interaction during visits. The mothers all reported substantial loss and trauma histories. Immediately prior to the visits, the mothers were coached on strategies for separating from their children at the visit's end. The mothers displayed more behavioral strategies for supporting their children when the visit was over, but were less engaged with their children during the leave-taking sequence and displayed fewer ways of maintaining the child's involvement in mother-child interaction during leave-taking than those in a comparison group. This article discusses consideration of parents' trauma history in designing interventions to enhance parent-child interaction.
Haight, W., Mangelsdorf, S., Black, J., Szewczyk, M., Schoppe, S., Giorgio, F., Madrigal, K., & Tata, L. (2005). Enhancing parent-child interaction during foster care visits: Experimental assessment of an intervention. Child Welfare, 84, 459-481.
Child Maltreatment and Juvenile Delinquency: Investigating the Role of Placement and Placement Instability
Joseph Ryan, Mark Testa
Children who experience maltreatment are at increased risk of engaging in delinquent behavior. Although little is known about the mechanisms responsible for this increased risk, the use of substitute care placement and placement instability are often identified as correlates. It is not clear from prior studies, however, whether delinquency precedes or follows placement instability. The current study adds significantly to the literature by identifying selected factors related to child maltreatment and delinquency and disentangling the timing of delinquency petitions relative to movements within the child welfare system. The results indicate that substantiated victims of maltreatment average 47% higher delinquency rates relative to children not indicated for abuse or neglect. In addition, approximately 16% of children placed into substitute care experience at least one delinquency petition compared to 7% of all maltreatment victims who are not removed from their family. Placement instability further increases the risk of delinquency for male foster children, but not for female foster children. Other characteristics related to delinquency include race, age, and recurrence of maltreatment.
Ryan, J.P., & Testa, M.F. (2005). Child maltreatment and juvenile delinquency: Investigating the role of placement and placement instability. Children and Youth Services Review, 27, 227-249.
Child Safety at Reunification: A Case-Control Study of Maltreatment Recurrence Following Return Home from Substitute Care
The study examined the factors that predict short-term (i.e., within 60 days) maltreatment recurrence among 174 families with children returning home from their first stay in substitute care. From a variety of child, caretaker, placement, family environment, and service provision characteristics, seven variables uniquely added to the prediction of maltrement: 1) child age, 2) caretaker mental illness, 3) number of placements, 4) type of placemnet, 5) length of time in placement, 6) number of children in the home at reunification, and 7) the interaction between household structure at reunification and the presence of siblings returned home with the index child. The implications of these findings for child welfare practice and future research are discussed in detail.
Fuller, T.L. (2005). Child safety at reunification: A case-control study of maltreatment recurrence following return home from substitute care. Children and Youth Services Review, 27 1293-1306.
Police Involvement in Child Protective Services Investigations
Theodore P. Cross, David Finkelhor & Richard Ormrod
This article examines the relationship of police and child protective services (CPS) coinvolvement to the outcomes of child maltreatment investigations. It reviews practice and empirical literature and conducts a secondary analysis of a national CPS data set of CPS. Most sources argue that coordination of the two agencies improves investigations and benefits children and families. Yet, sources also report friction between these agencies, interference with each other's job, and concerns that police involvement increases child removal. In the CPS case data, allegations were more likely to be judged credible when police also investigated and families were also more likely to receive various services. For neglect cases, multidisciplinary decision making, but not police involvement per se, was linked to child removal. Across studies, police do not appear to hinder CPS effectiveness and may actually promote it. Their investigations should be coordinated in every community.
Cross, T.P., Finkelhor, D. & Ormrod R. (2005). Police involvement in child protective services investigations. Child Maltreatment, 10, 224-244.
Criminal Investigations of Child Abuse: The Research Behind Best Practices
Lisa M. Jones, Theodore P. Cross, Wendy A. Walsh & Monique Simone
This article reviews the research relevant to seven practices considered by many to be among the most progressive approaches to criminal child abuse investigations: multidisciplinary team investigations, trained child forensic interviewers, videotaped interviews, specialized forensic medical examiners, victim advocacy programs, improved access to mental health treatment for victims, and Children's Advocacy Centers (CACs). The review finds that despite the popularity of these practices, little outcome research is currently available documenting their success. However, preliminary research supports many of these practices or has influenced their development. Knowledge of this research can assist investigators and policy makers who want to improve the response to victims, understand the effectiveness of particular programs, or identify where assumptions about effectiveness are not empirically supported.
Jones, L.M., Cross, T.P., Walsh, W., & Simone, M. (2005). Criminal investigations of child abuse: The research behind best practices. Trauma, Violence and Abuse: A Review Journal, 6, 254-268.
How the Justice System Responds to Juvenile Victims: A Comprehensive Model
Finkelhor, D., Cross, T.P. & Cantor, E.
This bulletin describes the new concept of the juvenile victim justice system. Juvenile victims of crime experience a de facto system involving police, prosecutors, courts and child protection agencies that affects their experiences and outcomes. The bulletin reviews case flow through this system and discusses three specific impacts for victims: 1) interviews and appearances that child victims must make before officials, (2) direct therapeutic or reparative services that child victims receive, and (3) family disruptions or other disruptions resulting from institutional decisions within the system. The concept of a juvenile victim justice system has implications for policy and practice, system integration, victim assistance and services, information-sharing, and system assessment.
Finkelhor, D., Cross, T.P. & Cantor, E. (2005). How the justice system responds to juvenile victims: A comprehensive model. OJJDP Crimes Against Children Series, Bulletin.
The Justice System for Juvenile Victims: A Comprehensive Model of Case Flow
Finkelhor, D., Cross, T.P. & Cantor, E.
This article proposes the idea that there is a de facto juvenile victim justice system, a complex set of agencies and institutions that responds to juvenile victims of crime and violence, including child maltreatment and conventional crime. The article offers a schematic model of that system and tries to quantify the case flow through its various components, that is, the likelihood that given certain actions (e.g., a substantiated finding of maltreatment), other actions will follow (e.g., services be provided). The model also highlights the activities of the system most likely to have consequential effects on victims. We argue that more professionals are needed who understand the system in its entirety, not just their own agency role, and who can help guide victims, families, and other professionals through its complexities. More efforts are also needed to integrate and rationalize the system, particularly through information exchange among its components.
Finkelhor, D., Cross, T.P. & Cantor, E. (2005). The justice system for juvenile victims: A comprehensive model of case flow. Trauma, Violence and Abuse, 6, 83-102.
When Children Cannot Return Home: Adoption and Guardianship
Since the 1970s, finding alternative permanent families for children in foster care who could not return to their birth parents has been a primary goal of the child welfare system. Since that time, significant gains have been made in helping such children find permanent homes through adoption and guardianship. This article analyzes these trends and finds: A majority of states have doubled the number of adoptions from foster care over the 1995-97 baselines established by the federal government. Legal guardianship initiatives at the state level have been instrumental in helping thousands of children achieve permanence. Children who exit foster care to adoption tend to be younger than those who exit to guardianship. Post-permanency services and supports are important to the long-term success of these placements. Innovative efforts to find adoptive parents and legal guardians for children in foster care could transform the nature of foster care if the number of children permanently living with families who receive state subsidies begins to exceed the number of children living in foster care. Looking forward, these changes would require child welfare agencies to think creatively and thoughtfully about how best to serve families and the children in their care.
Testa, M. (2004). When children cannot return home: Adoption and guardianship. The Future of Children, 14, 115-129.
Removing Barriers to Service Delivery: An Outcome Evaluation of a "Remodelled" Foster Care Programme
Yvonne Unrau, Michael. Wells, Mary Ann Hartnett
This article describes a foster care program named Promise and presents evaluation findings based on a comparison group design evaluation. Promise allowed for greater discretion among line-level workers to meet the unique service needs of families served, promoted greater team-oriented communication and involved more foster family involvement than the comparison group. An initial statistical comparison revealed that foster children in the Promise group (n = 380) experienced greater stability in their caseworker assignment and, to a lesser degree, greater placement stability over a 15-month period when compared to foster children served under the conventional model (n = 436). However, only the caseworker continuity effect remained when further analysis was undertaken. Similar rates of permanency achievement were reported for both models. Implications for foster care policy, practice and research are presented.
Unrau, Y.A., Wells, M.A., Hartnett, M.A. (2004). Removing barriers to service delivery: An outcome evaluation of a remodeled foster care programme. Adoption and Fostering Journal, 28, 20-30.
Influencing Social Workers to Use Research Evidence in Practice: Lessons from Medicine and the Allied Health Professions
Emmanuelle Gira, Michelle Kessler, John Poertner
This study sought to identify lessons for social workers from the health care research on influencing practitioners to use evidence-based practices (EBP). Research reviews of strategies to influence providers to use EBP are summarized. Among the findings are that printed educational materials, the use of local opinion leaders, and continuous quality improvement are weak interventions. Educational outreach visits and audit and feedback showed weak to moderate effects, whereas certain types of continuing education and use of computers showed moderate effects. Although much needs to be learned about providing social workers with the latest research knowledge, a combination of strategies is more likely to be effective.
Gira, E.C., Kessler, M.L., & Poertner, J. (2004). Influencing social workers to use research evidence in practice: Lessons from medicine and the allied health professions. Research on Social Work Practice, 14, 68-79.
Outcomes of Specialized Foster Care in a Managed Child Welfare Services Network
Theodore P. Cross, Joseph Leavey, Peggy R. Mosley, Andrew W., Andreas White & Jasmina Burdzovic
This study (N = 384) presents results from outcome measurement in a services network providing specialized foster care (SFC) to children in child protective service custody. A majority of participants improved on most outcomes. Global improvement was associated with increased length of stay up to two years, five months, and with younger age, fewer problems, and, paradoxically, the presence of a trauma history. Results suggest the value of SFC within managed services and of research using outcome measurement systems.
Cross, T.P., Leavey, J., Mosley, P.R., White, A.W. & Burdzovic Andreas, J. (2004). Outcomes of specialized foster care in a managed child welfare services network. Child Welfare, 83, 533-564.
Predicting Maltreatment Recurrence Among CPS Cases with Alcohol and Other Drug Involvement
Tamara Fuller, Susan Wells
Evidence suggests that the number of Child Protective Services (CPS) cases involving families with alcohol and other drug (AOD) problems is increasing, which presents unique challenges to CPS workers who must be able to determine how a parent's substance use affects their child's safety. The current study examined the factors that are predictive of short-term (e.g. within 60 days) maltreatment recurrence among CPS cases with AOD involvement. Data was collected from 95 indicated investigations that involved caretaker AOD use as part of the maltreatment allegation. Analyses revealed that four factors were related to an increased risk of short-term maltreatment recurrence: 1) the safety assessment factor involving caretaker AOD use checked "yes;" 2) a high risk assessment rating for caretaker criminal behavior; 3) no police involvement during the investigation; and 4) families headed by single, African-American women. The implications of these findings for CPS practice are discussed in detail.
Fuller, T.L., & Wells, S.J. (2003). Predicting maltreatment recurrence among CPS cases with alcohol and other drug involvement. Children and Youth Services Review, 25, 553-569.
Illinois's Child Welfare Research Agenda: An Approach to Building Consensus for Practice-Based Research
Michelle Johnson, Susan Wells, Mark Testa, Jess McDonald
This article presents an 18-month consensus building initiative, employing a Delphi technique, to develop a research agenda reflective of the Illinois child welfare community's needs within the context of a university-agency partnership. The agenda building process provided a medium for building and solidifying key working relationships and ensuring the accountability of research activities to the public. Findings suggest the development of best practice models may be one of the most important contributions research can make to practice.
Johnson, M., Wells, S., Testa, M., & McDonald, J. (2003). Illinois's child welfare research agenda: An approach to building consensus for practice-based research. Child Welfare, 82, 53-75.
Understanding and Supporting Parent-Child Relationships During Foster Care Visits: Attachment Theory and Research
James Black, Jill Doner Kagle, Wendy Haight
Parent visitation, the scheduled, face-to-face contacts between parents and their children in foster care, is the primary intervention for maintaining and supporting the development of parent-child relationships necessary for reunification. A review of the child welfare literature, however, reveals that for some parents and children, visits are problematic. Indeed, parents and children's experiences of visits, the quality of interaction observed during visits, and outcomes for children vary widely. The parent-child attachment relationship is one important factor influencing the quality of visits. Attachment theory and research indicate that there are universal, developmental, variable, and problematic aspects of attachment relationships. These aspects of attachment relationships provide a heuristic approach for understanding, assessing, and intervening in parent-child relationships during foster care visits.
Haight, W.L., Kagle, J.D., & Black, J.E. (2003). Understanding and supporting parent-child relationships during foster care visits: Attachment theory and research. Social Work, 48, 195-207.
Prosecution of Child Abuse: A Meta-Analysis of Rates of Criminal Justice Decisions
Theodore P. Cross, Wendy A. Walsh, Monique Simone, Lisa M. Jones
This study meta-analyzed rates of criminal justice decisions in 21 studies of prosecution of child abuse. Rates of referral to prosecution, filing charges, and incarceration varied considerably. Rates of carrying cases forward without dismissal were consistently 72% or greater. For cases carried forward, plea rates averaged 82% and conviction rates 94%. Compared to national data, child abuse was less likely to lead to filing charges and incarceration than most other felonies but more likely to be carried forward without dismissal. Diversion, guilty plea, and trial and conviction rates were about the same for child abuse and all violent crimes. Thus, prosecuting child abuse is generally neither feckless nor reckless. Rates can be misleading and cannot be the sole measure of prosecution success.
Cross, T.P., Walsh, W. , Simone, M. & Jones, L.M. (2003). Prosecution of child abuse: A meta-analysis of rates of criminal justice decisions. Trauma, Violence and Abuse, 4, 323-340.
The Child Health and Illness Profile: A Tool for Assessing Well Being in Group Homes and Institutions
Sandra Altshuler, John Poertner
Assessed levels of well-being of 63 12-19 year olds living in group homes or institutions, using the Child Health and Illness Profile-Adolescent Edition (CHIP--AE), a new standardized instrument. Results show that the youth reported high levels of satisfaction with their physical health, resilience, problem solving skills, and academic achievement. Youth reported low levels of self-esteem, emotional comfort and psychosocial stability, family involvement, and work performance. They also took more risks, had more threats to achievement, and had poorer peer influences than other youth. It is concluded that this study demonstrates the potential usefulness of the CHIP-AE as a tool for assessing the health and well-being of youth living in group homes and institutions.
Altshuler, S.J., & Poertner, J. (2002). The Child Health and Illness Profile - Adolescent edition: Assessing well-being in group homes or institutions. Child Welfare, 81, 495-513.
Making Visits Better: The Perspectives of Parents, Foster Parents, and Child Welfare Workers
Wendy Haight, James Black, Sarah Manglesdorf, Grace Giorgio, Lakshmi Tata, Sarah Schoppe, Margaret Szewczyk
28 mothers of children recently placed in foster care, 13 foster mothers, and 24 child welfare workers participated in semi-structured, clinical interviews focusing on the challenges of parent visitation with young children. Mothers (aged 16-42 yrs) described their feelings of grief, trauma, and rage about the forced separation from their children and stressed the importance of emotional expression and communication during visits. Child welfare workers described the complexities of supporting emotionally close parent-child interactions while monitoring and assessing parental behavior during visits. Foster mothers described the importance of preparing children for visits and the difficulties of supporting the children afterward. Implications of understanding mothers', foster mothers', and child welfare workers' perspectives on enhancing the quality of visits with young children are discussed.
Haight, W.L., Black, J.E., Mangelsdorf, S., Giorgio, G., Tata, L., Schoppe, S.J., & Szewczyk, M. (2002). Making visits better: The perspectives of parents, foster parents, and child welfare workers. Child Welfare, 81, 173-202.
Predicting Placement in Foster Care: A Comparison of Logistic Regression and Neural Network Analysis
Tom McDonald, John Poertner, Gardenia Harris
This paper explores the use of neural network analysis (NNA) as an alternative to logistic regression to predict which children with a founded (indicated) child abuse/neglect report will be subsequently placed in foster care. The main advantages of NNA are that it is a nonparametric technique requiring no assumptions of normality that can readily accommodate both linear and nonlinear relationships and interactions without prior specification by the researcher. The two techniques were found to yield similar classification results for these data; however, NNA provides unique capabilities in analyzing and displaying interactions in predictor variables that may make it more useful for data mining.
McDonald, T.P., Poertner, J., & Harris, G. (2002). Predicting placement in foster care: A comparison of logistic regression and neural network analysis. Journal of Social Service Research, 28, 1-20.
The Gift of Kinship Foster Care
Mark Testa, Kristen Shook Slack
Examined kinship foster care as a gift relationship. Reunification rates and replacement rates into non-related foster care were analyzed within the statistical framework of competing risks to examine the effects of reciprocity, payment, empathy, and duty on the dynamics of kinship foster care. The study used a set of survey data on 983 kinship foster children in Cook County, Illinois. Survey responses were linked to computerized administrative records from the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services to create a 5-yr longitudinal file on placement changes from June 30, 1994 to June 30, 1999. Children whose parents were reported as regularly visiting and working toward regaining custody (reciprocity) were more likely to be reunified and less likely to be replaced than children whose parents were reported as non-cooperative with visitation and service plans. Controlling for reciprocity, children were also less likely to be replaced if caregivers retained the full foster care subsidy (payment), reported a good relationship with the child (empathy), grew-up in the American South, and attended church regularly (duty). The sensitivity of these findings to alternative specifications of the competing risks of foster care replacement and kinship transfers is reported.
Testa, M., & Slack, K.S. (2002). The gift of kinship foster care. Children and Youth Services Review, 24, 79-108.
Kinship Care and Permanency
Examined whether kinship foster care should be favored as a form of permanency in and of itself or whether it should be avoided as a barrier to more binding forms of legal permanency (adoption, guardianship) in the child welfare system. The issue was examined using data from Cook County, Illinois, based on event history methods to analyze placement histories for 1992-1995 cohorts of 23,685 children and a 1994 matched, cross-sectional sample of 1,910 children. Results show that kin placements were more stable than non-kin placements, but that the advantage diminished with lengthier durations of care. It is suggested that current trends indicate a greater potential for legal permanency with kin than earlier literature has suggested.
Testa, M. (2002). Kinship care and permanency. Journal of Social Service Research, 28, 25-43.
Reducing Recurrence in Child Protective Services: Impact of a Targeted Safety Protocol
John Fluke, Myles Edwards, Marian Bussey, Susan Wells, Will Johnson
Statewide implementation of a child safety assessment protocol by the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) in 1995 is assessed to determine its impact on near-term recurrence of child maltreatment. Literature on the use of risk and safety assessment as a decision-making tool supports the DCFS's approach. The literature on the use of recurrence as a summative measure for evaluation is described. Survival analysis is used with an administrative data set of 400,000 children reported to DCFS between October 1994 and November 1997. An ex-post facto design tests the hypothesis that the use of the protocol cannot be ruled out as an explanation for the observed decline in recurrence following implementation. Several alternative hypotheses are tested: change in use of protective custody, other concurrent changes in state policy, and the concurrent experience of other states. The impact of the protocol to reduce recurrence was not ruled out.
Fluke, J., Edwards, M., Bussey, M., Wells, S., & Johnson, W. (2001). Reducing recurrence in child protective services: Impact of a targeted safety protocol. Child Maltreatment, 6 207-218.
Predictors of Maltreatment Recurrence at Two Milestones in the Life of a Case
Tamara Fuller, Susan Wells, Ed Cotton
This article reports the findings from two studies that examined the usefulness of the Illinois Child Endangerment Risk Assessment Protocol (CERAP) for predicting short-term maltreatment recurrence. The CERAP is a safety assessment tool designed to guide worker decision-making throughout the life of a case and is completed at several critical case milestones. Two milestones were chosen - within 24 hours after the CPS investigator sees the alleged victim and within five days of case opening (for services to intact families) - for analysis in separate studies. For each study, a case control design was used in which a sample of families who experienced an indicated report of maltreatment recurrence within 60 days of CERAP completion were compared to a sample of families who did not experience maltreatment recurrence. Information from the CERAP was examined, as well as other case characteristics that have been shown to be predictive of recurrence, such as type and severity of abuse, number of previous indicated reports, and number of services provided.
Fuller, T.L., Wells, S.J., & Cotton, E.E. (2001). Predictors of maltreatment recurrence at two milestones in the life of a case. Children and Youth Services Review, 23, 49-78.
Polygraph Testing and Sexual Abuse: The Lure of the Magic Lasso
Theodore P. Cross & Leonard Saxe
Polygraph tests to assess veracity are widely promoted for application in sexual abuse matters. The use of polygraph tests is advocated despite substantial differences in professional and scientific opinion about the validity of such techniques. Polygraph diagnoses of an individual's deception are inferences made by an examiner who compares physiological reactions to a set of questions. The test situation, however, is also used to induce examinees to admit crimes. In addition to their use in investigations, polygraph tests are used by defendants seeking exculpatory evidence and by treatment and probation programs to assess and monitor sexual offenders. Although there are dissenters, most knowledgeable scientists consider polygraph testing as unvalidated. Professionals need to access the literature on polygraph testing, evaluate the efficacy and ethics of polygraph tests in their community, and further develop standards for their use.
Cross, T.P. & L. Saxe (2001). Polygraph testing and sexual abuse: The lure of the magic lasso. Child Maltreatment, 6, 195-206.
Using Administrative Data to Assess Child Safety in Out-of-Home Care
Philip Garnier, John Poertner
This article describes efforts to produce useful safety measures from administrative data. A measure similar to that proposed by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is presented and compared to a measure that takes into account the length of time children are in placement. These measures are also reported for out-of-home care placement types. The challenges posed in constructing such measures from extant data are discussed.
Garnier, P.C.., & Poertner, J. (2000). Using administrative data to assess child safety in out-of-home care. Child Welfare, 79, 597-613.
The Parents with Children in Foster Care Satisfaction Scale
John Poertner, Gardenia Harris, Sean Joe
The authors describe an instrument designed to assess the service satisfaction of parents who have children in out of home placement. Survey items were generated through interviews and focus groups with parents and experienced social workers. Pilot testing of the items resulted in a 24-item scale. The scale demonstrated high reliability with a Cronbach's alpha of .97. Validity was examined through the inclusion of a general satisfaction scale. A correlation of .6 between the scales provides evidence for a moderate level of validi-ty for the scale. Suggestions for using the parent satisfaction scale to improve service quality are included.
Harris, G., Poertner, J., & Joe, S. (2000). The Parents with Children in Foster Care Satisfaction Scale. Administration in Social Work, 24, 15-27.
Child Welfare Outcomes Revisited
John Poertner, Tom McDonald, Cyndi Murray
The use of outcome measures in child welfare has been part of agency and academic discussions for at least two decades. In 1989, T. McDonald et al. contributed to the implementation of an outcome focus through the publication of "Child Welfare Standards for Success." That paper presented the results of a comprehensive review of published and unpublished research that reported on outcomes of the major public child welfare programs: protective services, substitute care and adoption. The purpose of this paper is to revisit the field to gather additional outcome studies and to determine if broader agreement can be reached on both the definitions of outcome measures and standards for evaluating success. Discussion is included on issues of the use of outcome data for management decision-making, court monitoring, and community involvement.
Poertner, J., McDonald, T.P., & Murray, C. (2000). Child welfare outcomes revisited. Children and Youth Services Review, 22, 789-810.
How Safe Are Out-of-Home Placements
John Poertner, Marian Bussey, John Fluke
A primary reason to place children in an alternative living arrangement is to protect them from abuse or neglect. However, few studies exist that examine the safety of substitute care. This paper reports the results of a study of the rate of abuse and neglect for substitute care for a large state public child welfare agency using the existing management information systems. Findings include that the percent of indicated reports of abuse and neglect for children in out-of-home care ranged from a low of 1.7% to a high of 2.3% over a five year period. Re-abuse rates are also reported by type of substitute care placement and are examined by age of child, type of abuse and perpetrator relationship for each type of out-of-home placement. Results of this study contribute to the emerging literature on the safety of substitute care.
Poertner, J., Bussey, M., & Fluke, J. (1999). How safe are out-of-home placements? Children and Youth Services Review, 21, 549-563.
Supporting Families as They Adopt Children With Special Needs
Laurie Kramer, Doris Houston
Identifies the types of formal and informal supports that are used and desired by families parenting children with special medical, behavioral, or developmental needs. Results indicate that informal, agency-linked resources, such as access to family-resource-support specialists and experienced "master" adoptive parents, appear to be relatively untapped sources.