As part of its function of monitoring Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS),CFRC has periodically conducted studies of the well-being of children involved with DCFS for almost 20 years.
The Child Welfare System has a responsibility to promote the well-being of the children it serves. Research showing substantial harm resulting from abuse and neglect and from multiple moves in out-of-home care lends weight to the importance of evaluating the well-being of child maltreatment victims. As part of its function of monitoring Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS), the Children and Family Research Center has periodically conducted studies of the well-being of children involved with DCFS for almost 20 years. These studies present results in a wide range of well-being domains, among them child development, physical health, emotional and behavioral health, education, adaptation to living in out-of-home care, and child resilience. Numerous reports, research briefs, and presentations from these studies are available on this website. The most recent well-being study, the 2017 Illinois Child Well-Being Study, assessed the well-being of children and youth in out-of-home care in 2017-2018. A previous study, the Illinois Survey of Child and Adolescent Well-Being, evaluated the well-being of Illinois youth involved with DCFS in substantiated investigations, whether they remained in their home or were placed in out-of-home care. Results from earlier well-being reports are available as well. Our website users can read widely about the well-being of children involved with DCFS or focus on a particular well-being topic of interest to them.
Screening children who are entering out-of-home care is widely implemented but not thoroughly studied. Using a sample from the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services, we examined whether emotional and behavioral needs identified by an Integrated Assessment (IA) at entry predict needs and services while in care. This research brief is reproduced from Chapter 5 of the 2021 Monitoring Report for the B.H. Consent Decree and adapted from a journal article by the authors. Data from the Child and Adolescent Needs and Strengths (CANS) measure completed in the IA were combined with data from a point-in-time study of the well-being of children in out-of-home care. Having a behavioral or emotional need identified at entry predicted having a similar need and receiving mental health services during out-of-home c are. The relationship did not diminish with length of time in care; IA CANS predicted needs and services even for children in substitute care for an extended period. These results provide evidence for the validity of the IA CANS for screening for children’s needs in out-of-home care. The persistence of problems suggests the value of baseline screening as a guide for service delivery throughout children’s stay in care, and the need for more effective mental health services specially tailored for children in substitute care.
The 2017 Illinois Child Well-Being Study found that many children and youth in out-of-home care in the state have significant developmental, physical, emotional, behavioral and/or educational challenges. However, some children in the study are capable of functioning well at home and school, despite the trauma of abuse and neglect and the difficulties of living in out-of-home care. We used measures from the study to examine how frequently children and youth functioned well across multiple measures. We found that many Illinois children and youth in out-of-home care demonstrated behavioral, emotional and educational resilience across multiple measures of functioning. Child welfare practice needs to take into account children and youth’s resilience and build on their strengths.
Screening children who are entering out-of-home care is widely implemented but not thoroughly studied. Using a sample from the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services, This study examines whether emotional and behavioral needs identified by an Integrated Assessment (IA) at entry predict needs and services while in care. Data from the Child and Adolescent Needs and Strengths (CANS) measure completed in the IA were combined with data from a point-in-time study of the well-being of children in out-of-home care. Logistic regression analyses found that having a need identified at entry predicted having a similar need and receiving mental health services during out-of-home care (p < .05 to p < .001). The relationship did not diminish with length of time in care; IA CANS predicted needs and services even for children in out-of-home care for many years. These results provide evidence for the validity of the IA CANS for screening for children’s needs in out-of-home care. The persistence of problems suggests the value of baseline screening as a guide for service delivery throughout children’s stay in care, and the need for more effective mental health services specially tailored for children in out-of-home care.
Considerable research has shown that early childhood education can contribute to children’s school readiness and later academic achievement and well-being. Early childhood education is particularly important for children in out-of-home care. Many young Illinois children in out-of-home care through the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services lag in development and many older children in out-of-home care have problems succeeding at school. This brief examines how frequently children in this age group in IDCFS care receive early childhood education, using data from the 2017 Illinois Child Well-Being Study.
Studies have found that a substantial proportion of youth in out-of-home care have been the victims of sexual violence, and that troubling percentages of these youth engage in risky sexual behaviors. This brief uses data from the 2017 Illinois Study of Child Well-Being to examine the sexual experiences of Illinois youth in out-of-home care. In this brief, we focus on the following variables: having sexual intercourse, having non-consensual sexual intercourse (and age at first intercourse), using protection while having sex, becoming pregnant (for girls) or getting someone pregnant (for boys), having children, and receiving family planning services. The results underlines the need for foster parents and child welfare workers to be aware of youths’ sexual behavior and make sure that youth have the knowledge to deal with their sexuality responsibly.
Research has shown that youth in out-of-home care have high rates of alcohol and illegal substance use. It is important then to track alcohol and substance use as part of monitoring the well-being of Illinois children and youth in out-of-home care. The 2017 Illinois Child Well-Being Study provided the first estimates of alcohol and substance use for these children and youth in a decade. This research brief provides results on alcohol and substance use from this study, including results not included in the main study report. The results suggest that most Illinois youth age 15 to 17 in out-of-home care have used alcohol and illegal substances in their life. Over a third in this age group had used alcohol or illegal substances in the last 30 days. Few caregivers reported that their child had an alcohol or substance abuse problem, and small numbers of youth reported using alcohol or illegal substances frequently in the past month. Nevertheless, we cannot be certain what proportion of these youth have a problem with alcohol and/or substance abuse, because caregivers may not know the extent of their child’s alcohol and substance use, and youth may be under-reporting their use.
Several studies nationally and in Illinois have found that children in out-of-home care are at increased risk for delinquency. This brief uses data from the 2017 Illinois study of Child Well-Being to examine the frequency of delinquent behaviors among Illinois youth in out-of-home care—the first such analysis in a decade. Overall 40.3% of youth aged 11 to 17 reported engaging in at least one delinquent act in the last six months. This proportion increased to two-thirds when we focused on older adolescents aged 15 to 17. The rate of delinquent behavior is lower than the 52% found in a 2005 study of Illinois youth in out-of-home care. More research is needed to assess the severity of delinquency. Nevertheless, these results suggest that there is an ongoing need to monitor these youth’s behavior and take steps to prevent delinquency.
A substantial proportion of children in out-of-home care through the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (IDCFS) have emotional and behavioral problems. Given this substantial need, it is especially important to track whether children in out-of-home care are receiving the behavioral health services they need. Through interviews with caregivers, the 2017 Illinois Child Well-Being Study of Illinois children in out-of-home care examined what behavioral health services children and youth were currently receiving and had ever received. This brief presents results on the frequency of receiving different behavioral health services. Most children and youth with emotional or behavioral problems were receiving a behavioral health service, though much remains unknown about the type and quality of behavioral health services they receive.
Decades of research have shown that many children and adolescents in out-of-home care through child protective services have emotional and behavioral problems. This research brief reports on the emotional and behavioral health among children in out-of-home care through the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS), using data from the 2017 Illinois Child Well-Being Study. Both caregiver and child reports suggest that large percentages of children and youth in out-of-home care have emotional and behavioral problems, with especially high rates among children and youth in specialized foster care, group homes, and residential treatment; even children in traditional and kinship foster care had rates of emotional and behavioral problems that exceed those of children and youth in general.
The Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) is responsible for assuring the safety, family permanence, and well-being of the children who have been investigated for abuse or neglect or who have been removed from their homes and placed into substitute care. For over two decades, the Children and Family Research Center (CFRC) has produced an annual monitoring report that tracks the performance of the Illinois child welfare system on over 40 measures of child safety, family continuity, placement stability, permanence, as well as new indicators involving racial disproportionality. The full report, which is available on the CFRC website, examines each measure over the past seven years and provides detailed tables and figures that examine differences among child age and racial groups. This brief highlights five noteworthy findings from the most recent report, which tracks performance through FY2019.
Many children in out-of-home care have emotional and behavioral problems, so it is not surprising that many receive psychiatric medication. This research brief reports on the use of psychiatric medication among children in out-of-home care through the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS), using data from the 2017 Illinois Child Well-Being Study. This is a new analysis with findings that are not available in the study final report. Based on data from caregivers about their child, just over one-fifth of children and youth were receiving psychiatric medication, but rates were much higher among youth age 15 to 17 and youth in specialized foster care, group homes and residential treatment.
Most children in out-of-home care because of child maltreatment remain attached to their birth parents despite the abuse or neglect they have suffered from them. This research brief reports on relationships with birth parents for children in out-of- home care through the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS), using data from the 2017 Illinois Child Well-Being Study. Contact with birth parents was a positive experience for many children in out-of-home care, but not enough children had the positive contact with birth parents they needed.
Disproportionate percentages of children in out-of-home care have poor outcomes on child development, health, behavioral health, and education. Yet some children in out-of-home care are resilient and do well even if they have been placed out of home because they were maltreated. In this brief, we use data from the 2017 Illinois Child Well-Being Study to learn about the resilience of Illinois children in out-of-home care. Most children and youth reported positive relationships with adults and positive activities such as sports and hobbies. Most had positive expectations for their future. These results suggest that many children and youth have strengths to count on to deal with the stresses and difficulties of experiencing child maltreatment, being removed from their home, and not yet having a permanent home to return to.
Considerable research shows that many children in out-of-home care have serious health problems. This research brief profiles the health of Illinois children in out-of-home care, using data from the 2017 Illinois Child Well-Being Study. Caregivers’ responses suggested that nearly half of children had a serious or chronic health condition, and almost a third of youths interviewed reported a serious or chronic health problem. More than a quarter of youth reported that they had seen a doctor or nurse for an injury in the previous year. The good news is that high rates of children were receiving preventative health and dental services, according to caseworkers. The high rates of health problems and injuries among children in out-of-home care means that we need to be vigilant about understanding and responding to their health care needs.
Having a good relationship with a foster caregiver contributes substantially to children’s well-being in foster care. Assessing this relationship for Illinois children helps us understand and potentially help improve their quality of life. This research brief updates the assessment of Illinois children’s relationship with their foster caregivers using data collected in 2017-2018. This brief is one in a series that presents capsule summaries of results from the 2017 Illinois Child-Well-Being Study in different domains of well-being.
The Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) is responsible for assuring the safety, family permanency, and well-being of the children who have been investigated for abuse or neglect or who have been removed from their homes and placed into substitute care. For over two decades, the Children and Family Research Center (CFRC) has produced an annual monitoring report that tracks the performance of the Illinois child welfare system on over 40 different measures of safety, placement restrictiveness, placement stability, and timely, stable, and permanent family relationships. The full report, which is available on the CFRC website, examines each measure over the past seven years and provides detailed tables and figures that examine differences among child age and racial groups. This brief highlights five noteworthy findings from the most recent report, which tracks performance through June 2018.
An infographic presenting some of the major findings from the 2017 Illinois Child Well-Being Study.
Children’s relationships with their siblings may be the one source of familial love that they can count on when they are placed in out-of-home care. Yet, placement in out-of-home care can separate children from their siblings. Illinois state law requires siblings who are in out-of-home care to be placed together whenever it is in their best interest and not in violation of other rules of the Department of Children and Family Services. This brief presents findings from the 2017 Illinois Child Well-Being Study on siblings of children in out-of-home care.. The study conducted interviews with caseworker, caregivers and children themselves to assess the well-being of a sample of 700 children in out-of-home care in the state. Many children in out-of-home care were placed with siblings, but a number of children had siblings in other placements, especially if there were three or more siblings in the family. Often children had limited contact with their siblings and wished for more interaction with them. These findings suggest the need for more progress to enable siblings in out-of-home care to live together and to strengthen the connections between siblings who must live apart.
National research indicates that children in out-of-home care because of abuse or neglect are at significant risk for developmental difficulties, but to date we have limited information on the development of children in out-of-home care in Illinois. This brief presents findings on child development from the 2017 Illinois Child Well-Being Study. The study conducted interviews with caseworker, caregivers and children themselves to assess the well-being of a sample of 700 children in out-of-home care in the state. On a caregiver checklist, more than one-fifth of young children had scores on a caregiver checklist that indicated possible developmental delay or a level of developmental risk that needed to be monitored, but many of these children were not receiving a developmental intervention. Children’s likelihood of receiving a development intervention they needed differed by type of placement and by region. These finding indicate the need to develop a better understanding of what developmental interventions children in out-of-home care receive and the obstacles that keep children from receiving the help they need.
Children are placed in out-of-home care through the Illinois Department of Children and Family services to protect their safety, so it especially important to assess their safety while in substitute care. This brief presents findings on child safety from the 2017 Illinois Child Well-Being Study. The study conducted interviews with caseworker, caregivers and children themselves to assess the well-being of a sample of 700 children in out-of-home care in the state. Substantial proportions of children in out-of-home care have witnessed and/or experienced violence in their life, but children and youth were much less likely to experience threats to their safety in their current placement. Substantial proportion of older adolescents and youth in group homes and residential treatment reported by physically hurt by someone in the past year. Overall, these findings suggest that placement in out-of-home care leads to greater safety. But continued vigilance about children’s safety is still needed, particularly for older adolescents and youth in group homes and residential treatment.
Children placed in out-of-home care because of abuse or neglect often have cognitive, emotional, behavioral, and health problems that can make it difficult to succeed at school. But we have limited data on the educational well-being of Illinois children in out-of-home care through the Department of Children and Family Services. This brief presents findings on education from the 2017 Illinois Child Well-Being Study. The study conducted interviews with caseworker, caregivers and children themselves to assess the well-being of a sample of 700 children in out-of-home care in the state. Most children and youth were was performing adequately or better in school, but many children faced obstacles to school success. The brief presents an overview of results and discusses the need for increased efforts to help children in out-of-home care with their education.
The 2017 Illinois Child Well-Being Study provides a snapshot of the well-being of children and youth in out-of-home care in Illinois in 2017. The Children and Family Research Center (CFRC) drew a stratified random sample of 700 children and youth from the population of children and youth in the care of the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) in October 2017. The Survey Research Laboratory of the University of Illinois at Chicago conducted interviews with caseworkers, foster care providers, and children age seven and older between December 2017 and July 2018. Interviews included questions developed for the study as well as a number of standardized scales measuring child functioning and well-being.
The report documents the progress many children and youth are making, but also the disproportionate number of children who lag in development, deal with physical and behavioral health challenges, struggle in school, or face threats to their safety. The well-being data can be used to advocate for children’s needs, inform the development of DCFS policy and practice, and guide in-depth well-being research.
In March 2018, CFRC researchers Michael T. Braun and Steve Tran partnered with University of Illinois Special Education assistant professor Catherine Corr to present a webinar for the Early Intervention Training Program at the University of Illinois. The webinar, titled 10 Things Early Interventionists Need To Know About The Child Welfare System, focused on demystifying the child welfare system for early interventionists and service providers. Topics included an overview of the child welfare system, the process of making a hotline call, ways to support families who have experienced past trauma, and how early interventionists can work with child welfare workers to support children and families.
The Children and Family Research Center (CFRC) produces the annual monitoring report of the B.H. Consent Decree, which tracks the performance of the Illinois child welfare system in achieving its stated goals of child safety, permanency, and well-being for children in or at risk of entering foster care. The full report, available on the CFRC website, contains information about Illinois performance on more than 40 measures over the past seven years. This brief highlights five key findings from the latest report, which tracks performance through the end of FY2016.
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.
Disproportionality in the child welfare system refers to the over- or underrepresentation of a group (usually a racial/ethnic group) compared to that group’s representation in a base population. This research brief explores rates of racial disproportionality in the Illinois child welfare system. It is the second brief in a series exploring disproportionality.
Disproportionality in the child welfare system refers to the over- or underrepresentation of a group involved with the system compared to that group’s representation in a base population (Child Welfare Information Gateway, 2016). This research brief defines racial disproportionality in the child welfare system, including how it is measured and how disproportionality rates should be interpreted. It is the first brief in a series exploring disproportionality in the child welfare system.
This presentation reports results of collaboration between Canadian and American researchers to explore a new method of classifying child maltreatment cases that holds promise for improving child welfare services. Canadian researchers have previously classified child maltreatment cases into two categories: urgent cases characterized by acute harm include cases of physical abuse, sexual abuse, and neglect of very young children, and chroniccases in which harm is thought to develop over the long-term through exposure to neglect, emotional maltreatment, and less severe forms of physical abuse. The urgent vs. chronic distinction has predicted important outcomes in Canadian data, and has important implications for providing a child protection response tailored to children’s needs. The research reported in this presentation applied the urgent vs. chronic classification to the American child welfare system for the first time. The analysis classified cases with American children into the urgent and chronic categories, using data from the National Survey of Child and Adolescent Well-Being, a national probability study of children involved in child protection investigations. One-fifth of American cases were classified as urgent, very similar to the 24% found in a Canadian sample. Urgent cases were more likely to be substantiated and lead to out-of-home placements. Chronic cases, on the other hand, were more likely to include children with special needs. The research provides preliminary evidence that the urgent-chronic dichotomy may apply to North American cases generally and suggests the value of further research on this distinction.
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.
Individuals considering reporting child maltreatment to protective services would naturally consider what would result from the report for the child and family. This could affect both their opinion about the value of reporting and their decision to report. This presentation profiles outcomes of reporting and considers the implications for understanding and improving the reporting situation. It briefly reviews research on the frequency and predictors of five different decisions: screening out, substantiation, CPS service delivery, child placement and providing differential response Then, using new analysis of national data, we profile the different decisions that are likely to be made for a hypothetical 100 cases. Findings suggest how modest the protective service response is in most cases, how much communities differ in outcomes of reporting, how much of a difference case factors like child age make, and how resources affect the profile of outcomes. Finally, this presentation discusses how understanding what outcomes of reporting are likely and what factors affect these outcomes could influence policy, practice and training regarding reporting.
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.
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.
This report provides a comprehensive look at the well-being of children involved with the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) 18 months following the close of a substantiated investigation of maltreatment. It reports results from the Illinois Survey of Child and Adolescent Well-Being (ISCAW), a statewide study of children in substantiated investigations that examines multiple domains of child well-being, including physical health, mental health, and developmental risk.
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.
The purpose of this research brief is to examine the use of community food services (such as food pantries and soup kitchens) and state-provided food assistance programs among families involved in child welfare investigations in Illinois. The percentage of families in substantiated investigations in Illinois that use community food service and food assistance programs is compared to the percentage of these households that are eligible for assistance.
Young child maltreatment victims are extremely vulnerable to compromised development. Using the National Survey of Child and Adolescent Well-Being, this presentation reports Illinois and national research on developmental challenges for child victims age 0 to 5 and on interventions to address developmental lags. Large proportions of these children show delays in cognitive and language development. Gaps exist in providing early intervention, though children in foster care are more likely to receive it.Obstacles to identifying children with developmental need, referring them to early intervention (EI), and providing EI services limit the number of children receiving help and the positive impact of their involvement with EI. However, a large majority of Illinois substantiated child victims are enrolled in early child education programs, significantly more than in the rest of the country.
Children from birth to age 3 are particularly vulnerable to adverse effects of child maltreatment on their development. This research brief reports findings from the Illinois Survey of Child and Adolescent Well-Being (ISCAW) concerning the well-being of infants and toddlers in substantiated maltreatment cases in Illinois. Disproportionate percentages live in poverty, experience risk factors like domestic violence and caregiver substance abuse, and have special health care needs. Standardized measures of child development used by ISCAW show that many are at risk for development delays. Programs such as DCFS’ Integrated Assessment Program and Early Childhood Placement Family Services Program that provide developmental screening and consultations and referrals on early childhood issues are critical to meeting the developmental needs of young children involved with DCFS.
Maltreated children are more likely to attend religious services when their caregivers (including foster parents) attend religious services. Maltreating parents are less likely to attend religious services than foster parents, so it is likely that in addition to changes in their home and school, children entering foster care will also be experiencing changes in how often they attend religious services
This report provides results from the Illinois Survey of Child and Adolescent Well-Being (ISCAW), an intensive study of the well-being of a random sample of 818 Illinois children involved in substantiated child maltreatment investigations. The study is a component of the National Survey of Child and Adolescent Well-Being (NSCAW). Using data from interviews and standardized instruments used with caseworkers, caregivers, teachers and children themselves, ISCAW provides a broad profile on how child and youth victims function, how they are developing, and what services they receive. Chapters review child and adolescent well-being and services in five domains: child development; education; physical health; social, emotional and behavioral well-being; and risk in children's environment. Disproportionate percentages of children in each domain have significant problems needing intervention, but many children are resilient as well. Although many children receive services to address these problems, there is frequently a gap between the services needed and those delivered.
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.
This research brief examines rates of obesity and underweight for children with a substantiated investigation of maltreatment in Illinois. Findings show that 24% of Illinois maltreated children are obese, a rate 1.5 greater than children in the general population. African-American children entering substitute care following the investigation are at the highest risk for being obese. Findings also show that 7% of Illinois maltreated children are underweight, a rate over twice that of children in the general population; 6-11 year-olds and male children at the greatest risk for underweight in Illinois. A smaller than expected percentage of caregivers of underweight or obese maltreated children think their child has a weight problem.
Some advocates argue that police too rarely conduct criminal investigations in Child Protective Services sexual abuse cases, while policy regarding police involvement in CPS physical abuse and neglect cases is not well developed. However, little research has examined how often police investigate in CPS cases and what factors predict involvement. Using two cohorts of cases (1999-2001 and 2008-2009) from the National Survey of Child and Adolescent Well-Being, a national probability study of children involved in CPS investigations, this presentation examines the frequency of criminal investigations in CPS cases and the factors predicting criminal investigation. Across cohorts, criminal investigations took place in 21% to 24% of all cases, 47% to 49% of sexual abuse cases, 24% to 27% of physical abuse cases and 15% to 18% of neglect cases. Police investigated more often when caseworkers reported greater risk and harm to the child and greater evidence, but variables like child age and relationship to perpetrator were not significant. Which county was involved, however, was a major predictor, with enormous variation in rates of police investigation across counties. Thus the likelihood of a criminal investigation depends on severity but also agency differences in practice. Equity suggests the need to discuss these differences.
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.
Early childhood education programs show promise for helping ameliorate the negative effects of growing up with maltreatment, environmental risk, and disadvantage. A new CFRC study shows that child maltreatment victims involved with the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services are 1.3 times more likely than comparable children in the rest of the country to be enrolled in these programs.
Religion is an understudied factor in child welfare in general and in the foster care system in specific. There are two reasons that religion needs to be considered in child welfare: 1) both foster children and foster parents claim that religion is important, and 2) increased religiosity is correlated with improved outcomes for adolescents in the general population and moderates negative effects faced by disadvantaged youth. Data from a nationally representative survey, the National Survey of Child and Adolescent Well-being (NSCAW), show that foster children and foster parents are attending church at a high rate. The question remains, does the religious attendance of foster parents and foster youth affect outcome measures. (Presented workshop at the North American Association of Christians in Social Work Convention, Durham, NC, November 13, 2010.)
Previous research on childhood disability and maltreatment has assumed that the risk of physical abuse has a linear relationship to level of functionality, so that the more disabled children are, the greater their risk of abuse. Other research has indicated that a yet untested curvilinear relationship may be present, where children with modest difficulties may be at greater risk. Using a cross-sectional dataset of families who have been investigated for maltreatment, this study examines the association between separate continuous measures of functionality - behavior, language, social skills, and daily-living skills - and the prevalence of minor and severe physical assault for children ages 3 to 10. Linear relationships emerged where children with many behavioral and social difficulties were more likely to experience assault compared to children without those difficulties. Negative curvilinear relationships emerged where children with modest language, social, and daily-living skills were more likely to experience an assault compared to children with many or little to no difficulties with these skills. Theoretical explanations as to why children at different levels of various types of functionality may be more or less likely to be assaulted will be discussed, focusing on the role of stress, parental expectations, and knowledge of child development within a bioecological model. Presented at the International Family Violence and Child Victimization Research Conference, Portsmouth, NH, July 13, 2010
This workshop provides a primer for prospective users of the data set of the National Survey of Child and Adolescents Well-Being (NSCAW), the largest and most ambitious study ever conducted tracking services, well-being and outcomes for children involved in child maltreatment investigations.
The decision to substantiate a report of child maltreatment is one of the most important in the the child welfare field, but the latest knowledge about what underlies the decision to substantiate and how it relates to future outcomes is not widely known. This workshop--led by authors of a special section on substantiation in the journal Child Maltreatment -- provided an overview of current research on substantiation and discusses its meaning for policy. Data suggest that the substantiation decision is usually based on a combination of the harm the child is thought to have experienced and the evidence for maltreatment, although this model does not fit well in a small proportion of cases. Most worrisome are the 9% of child protective cases in which children reportedly suffered moderate to severe harm but the case was not substantiated. The workshop reviews the mixed evidence for the validity of substantiation and discusses the debate on substantiation as a gatekeeper for decision-making and a method of measuring child maltreatment. (Presented at the American Professional Society on the Abuse of Children (APSAC) 18th Annual National Colloquium, New Orleans, LA, June 23-26, 2010)
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.
This study examined the frequency and persistence of depression among mothers of young children in child protective investigations using a national child welfare probability study. It also identified family and environment factors associated with mothers becoming and staying depressed. Almost half of these mothers experienced depression at one point during a five year follow-up period after the close of a maltreatment investigation and there was no significant improvement in depression over levels at the start of the study. Being a victim of intimate partner violence and reporting fair or poor health were the two most consistent predictors of mothers' depression. (Presented at the 23rd Annual Children's Mental Health Research and Policy Conference, Tampa, FL.)
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.
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.
This article examines the reasons for a shortfall in mental health services for children in foster care in Illinois in 2003 and 2005, and explores efforts to improve mental health services by the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS). The shortfall reflects both overall deficits in funding and staffing children’s mental health services in Illinois and specific challenges to the child welfare system. From 1988 to 2001, DCFS mental health change efforts focused on substantially reducing high rates of psychiatric hospitalization and residential treatment and overhauling an ineffective system of psychological assessment, leaving much undone regarding more routine mental health services. Spurred in part by federal review and statewide grassroots children’s mental health advocacy, DCFS since 2005 has initiated a range of new assessment and treatment programs. However, ongoing problems with Medicaid funding and reimbursement hinder service delivery. More rapid improvement of mental health services for this population may require a coalition with a specific commitment to children in foster care.
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.
This presentation reports results on mental health services for Illinois children in foster care from the 2003 and 2005 Illinois Child Well-Being studies and contrasts them with results from national comparison data. Illinois children were significantly less likely to receive mental health services than children in foster care nationally. Obstacles impeding service delivery are reviewed. Presented at the Society for Social Work Research Conference, New Orleans, LA.
The IL-CWB Study Round 2 data were drawn from a sample of 655 children in care in Illinois on March 31, 2003. Significant changes were made to the methodology and data collection instruments used in Round 2 from the methodology used in Round 1. Interviews with caregivers, caseworkers, and children were modified to follow the interview instruments used in the National Survey of Child and Adolescent Well-Being (NSCAW). The NSCAW Executive Summary data collection instruments include several standardized child assessment instruments to assess behavior, depression, trauma, and other indices of well-being. This approach allows for direct comparisons with foster children nationwide and provides a standardized assessment of foster children in Illinois. In addition to the well-being domains of physical health, mental health, educational performance, placement stability, and permanence studied in Round 1, Round 2 of the IL-CWB Study includes sections on children's strengths and their connections to community.
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.
This presentation provided results from a longitudinal analysis of the National Survey of Child and Adolescent Well-Being on outcomes related to adoption for a subsample of infants who had been maltreated. Nearly one-third of infants involved in investigations were placed outside the home during or soon after the maltreatment investigation; 36% of this group had been adopted by a five-year follow-up. At five-year follow-up, adopted children had better outcomes on cognitive and learning measures than children in kin and foster care. Additional results examine frequency of multiple placements, timing of finalization, and other five-year well-being outcomes.
Using a sample of non-elderly adults from the National Survey of Families and Households, the study explores the relationship between two types of social capital -- bonding capital and bridging capital -- and an individual's future economic wellbeing. The study finds that bridging capital, measured by the strength of an individual's volunteer group affiliation, is positively associated with their future income increase, but bonding capital, measured by the strength of individual social networks with friends and relatives, does not show such a connection. (Presented at the 12th Annual Conference of Society for Social Work and Research, Washington DC.)
In 2001, the judge overseeing the B.H. Consent Decree called for a comprehensive study of the current state of the well-being of children in foster care in Illinois to determine if the Department of Children and Family Services was meeting minimal standards. The Children and Family Research Center undertook the Illinois Child Well-Being Study to measure children's functioning in the domains of safety, permanence, health, mental health, and education. The study incorporates three separate rounds of data collections and analyses for three random samples of children in placement. The results of Round I of the Illinois Child Well-Being Study are presented in this volume.
This brief summarizes the results from the first Illinois Child Well-Being Study (IL-CWB). This study, conducted in 2001, collected survey information from 351 children in foster care in Illinois, along with surveys of their caregivers, caseworkers, and teachers. Findings related to their physical and mental health, education, and permanency outcomes are summarized.
Dramatic growth of kinship care placements since the late 1980s has drawn attention to the implications of kinship care for children's well-being. This review of the literature outlines and discusses empirical studies investigating well-being outcomes of children in kinship care. Studies reviewed focused on school performance, behavioral problems, mental health, and/or later adult functioning of children in kinship care.
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.
The purpose of this study is to describe the well-being of a sample of foster youth who are likely to age out of the out-of-home care. The sample of youth between the ages of 16.5 and 17.5 in out-of-home care was drawn from the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) Integrated Database. Nearly 28% of the study group entered the care before age 7, and stayed in care until the age of 16.5 to 17.5. A number of these youth were experiencing substance abuse and educational problems.
This paper is a discussion of some of the various safety, permanency, and well-being variables that will be assessed by the Children and Family Research Center for producing periodic outcome reports.