Bridging Disciplinary Boundaries (January 11 - 14, 2007)

Pacific L (Hyatt Regency San Francisco)

Domestic Violence Services and the Re-Victimization of Child Welfare Involved Mothers: A Propensity Score Analysis

Patricia Kohl, PhD, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Purpose: Domestic violence (DV) and child maltreatment co-occur in about a third of families investigated for child maltreatment. The prevalence of DV among child welfare caseloads demonstrates that many child welfare involved women have a need for DV services. The purpose of this study is to assess the effectiveness of DV services at reducing re-victimization over 36-months among child welfare involved mothers who self-reported DV.

Methods: The data used for this study were the National Survey of Child and Adolescent Well-being (NSCAW) and the Child Abuse/Domestic Violence Services Survey (CADVSS). NSCAW is a longitudinal, national probability sample of children and families investigated for child maltreatment, while CADVSS pertains to the characteristics of the child welfare agencies in the NSCAW study. Combining these datasets allowed for the inclusion of organization context when examining service receipt.

The sample was mothers who self-reported at least one incident of DV on the physical assault scale of the Conflict Tactics Scale in the 12-months prior to the intake investigation and whose child remained in home following the investigation (n = 778). The group who received DV services differed significantly from the group who did not receive services on many agency and case characteristics, therefore, propensity score matching was used to obtain balanced treatment and non-treatment groups and allow for a more accurate estimation of service use while addressing selection bias. The final sample size was 236 mothers (118 in treatment group and 118 in non-treatment group). Repeated measures regression using generalized estimating equations (GEE) was then used to test the extent to which the relationship between case characteristics and safety related outcomes was conditioned on service receipt.

Results: Differences between service receipt and several agency and case characteristics that were found prior to matching were no longer significant on the matched resample. Overall mothers experienced less DV over 36 months, regardless of whether or not they received services. Findings from a repeated measures regression model which included interaction terms revealed that the rates of change between mothers who received services and those who did not were significantly different over the study window. Substance abusing mothers also experienced re-victimization at differing rates than non-substance abusing mothers and substance abusing mothers had the highest level of re-victimization at 36-months (model predicted mean = 11.0).

Implications: Training child welfare workers and community collaborations to target concurrent child maltreatment and DV have been recommended by both practitioners and scholars, and are necessary to improve the child welfare response to DV among families investigated for child maltreatment. They, however, can only be useful if provided in conjunction with effective DV services and intervention research must be given priority. Furthermore, the service needs of victimized women in child welfare may vary somewhat from victimized women without child welfare involvement, and the unique needs of this large sub-group should be given attention in intervention development. Finally, DV services, substance abuse treatment, and mental health interventions must be provided to child welfare involved mothers in a coordinated and integrated manner.