Methods: The study sample was obtained from 23 WIC offices throughout the State of Wisconsin. Sample members were enrolled over a 3-month period during which WIC recipients came into a WIC site for benefit redetermination or for benefit enrollment. The outcome variables are investigated CPS reports, and CPS report type (neglect vs. physical abuse). A host of other control variables measuring parenting and parent well-being, family structure, and social support are controlled in logistic regression models. Results: Benefit packages varied according to whether or not the WIC recipient was currently employed. Employment-oriented benefit packages operated in a protective capacity with respect to CPS involvement, whereas non-employment-oriented packages increased the odds of CPS involvement. Families with high levels of perceived economic hardship had an elevated risk of CPS involvement which was stronger for those with non-employment-oriented benefit packages. The addition of other control variables did temper results, suggesting that selection issues were not entirely addressed given the available data.
Conclusions and Implications: A wealth of past research has shown that welfare recipients are at greater risk of CPS involvement than low-income families that have left the welfare rolls. However, since the large declines in welfare caseloads following welfare reform, little is known about the types of benefits associated with CPS involvement. Such information can assist state administrators with cross-systems efforts to identify families that may be at elevated risk of this outcome.