Methods: This study utilizes the National Survey of Child and Adolescent Well-being (NSCAW) and secondary data analysis to describe and make inferences about hypothesized relationships. The primary analytical technique is Structural Equation Modeling (SEM) with multiple groups in consideration of the complex sample. The analysis is considered progressive because the techniques that apply complex sample design (i.e., weights, clusters and strata) to simultaneous equations have only begun to build momentum over the past five years.
Results: Findings demonstrate a clear partial mediation of service provision; the effect of child well-being at Wave I on child well-being at Wave IV significantly decreases as a function of child services (i.e., the indirect effect of services is significant). Results show little evidence supporting a family structure and/or substance misuse moderator; however, there is some evidence suggesting that supported mothers with no substance misuse problems fare better than single mothers with substance misuse problems.
Implications: Findings are explored and recommendations are made for future research based on theory, strengths and limitations of the study. Implications are discussed with an emphasis on prevention and early intervention services such as Alternative or Differential Response. The discussion highlights the need to consider additional confounding factors influencing the well-being of children over time such as placement moves and re-report of maltreatment. Researchers are encouraged to continue inquiry into the impact of single motherhood and gender-specific substance misuse and abuse.