Society for Social Work and Research

Sixteenth Annual Conference Research That Makes A Difference: Advancing Practice and Shaping Public Policy
11-15 January 2012 I Grand Hyatt Washington I Washington, DC

74 Linking Child Welfare Records with Population-Level Data

Friday, January 13, 2012: 2:30 PM-4:15 PM
Cabin John (Grand Hyatt Washington)
Cluster: Child Welfare
Symposium Organizer:
Emily Putnam-Hornstein, PhD, University of Southern California
Administrative data collected by child welfare agencies suffer from the notable limitations of being both narrow in scope (i.e., containing a limited set of variables) and narrow in coverage (i.e., capturing data for only those children who are reported). In isolation, these data are poorly suited to identifying etiological risk factors preceding a first allegation of maltreatment, or to tracking outcomes that follow decisions made for each child at various points of system contact. Fortunately, technological and statistical advances in record linkage methodologies now allow for individuals to be linked across multiple sources of data with relative ease. This symposium presents findings from four studies arising from a unique dataset constructed by linking administrative child welfare records to vital birth records and death records from California. These record linkages were pursued with the goal of advancing an understanding of children reported for maltreatment in the context of the full population of children born in California.

Through record linkages between child protective service records, eight years of vital birth records, and nine years of vital death records, the characteristics of over half a million children referred for maltreatment in California were examined on the day they were born and compared with their unreported counterparts. These children were then prospectively followed through the age of five or January 1, 2008.

Findings from four recently completed studies will be presented in this symposium. The first paper provides a population-level examination of racial disparities, utilizing key variables available from the birth record to disentangle race and poverty. The second paper examines the absence of established paternity at birth as a risk factor for subsequent child welfare contact, discussing high rates of missing fathers in the context of current father engagement efforts. The third paper provides an analysis of the source and status of maltreatment reporters and case disposition. Finally, the fourth paper examines injury death as an outcome following an allegation of maltreatment.

* noted as presenting author
A Population-Based Analysis of Race and Poverty As Risk Factors for Maltreatment
Barbara Needell, PhD, University of California, Berkeley; Emily Putnam-Hornstein, PhD, University of Southern California
Where Are the Dads? the Absence of Established Paternity Among Children Involved with Child Protective Services
Emily Putnam-Hornstein, PhD, University of Southern California; Wendy Wiegmann, MSW, University of California, Berkeley; Joseph Magruder, PhD, University of California, Berkeley
Reporter Type As a Predictor of Case Disposition
Bryn King, MSW, University of California, Berkeley; Emily Putnam-Hornstein, PhD, University of Southern California; Jennifer Lawson, MSW, University of California, Berkeley
A Birth Cohort Study of Maltreatment Type and Subsequent Injury Death
Emily Putnam-Hornstein, PhD, University of Southern California
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