The Society for Social Work and Research

2013 Annual Conference

January 16-20, 2013 I Sheraton San Diego Hotel and Marina I San Diego, CA

A Profile of Child Maltreatment-Related Investigations Involving Asian Children

Friday, January 18, 2013: 10:00 AM
Nautilus 5 (Sheraton San Diego Hotel & Marina)
* noted as presenting author
Barbara Lee, MSW, Doctoral Student, University of Toronto, Toronto, ON, Canada
Background and Purpose:  The Canadian child welfare system is mandated to serve and protect the nation’s children and families but currently there is no Canadian literature that depicts the experiences and service trajectories of Asian families identified to the child welfare system. There are growing numbers of studies examining the over-representation of Blacks and Aboriginal peoples receiving child welfare service, however very little attention has been given to the under-representation of Asian children and families in the United States and Canada. The current study compares Asian (i.e. Chinese, Filipino, Korean, Japanese, South-East Asian) and non-Asian families investigated for child maltreatment in Canada based on case characteristics (i.e. maltreatment type, referral source, demographic indicators, risk factors) and proximal case outcomes (i.e. case opening, child placement, court involvement, placement type).

Methods:  The study used secondary data analysis of the Canadian Incidence Study of Reported Child Abuse and Neglect-2008 (CIS-2008). The CIS-2008 is the third cycle of the only national study that examines the incidence of reported child maltreatment and the characteristics of children and families investigated by child welfare agencies across Canada. The CIS-2008 employed a multi-stage sampling design to select child welfare service areas from each province and territory across Canada and used a case file methodology to collect data from cases opened over a 3-month period (October 1, 2008 to December 31, 2008). Bivariate and binary logistic regression analyses were used to examine the influence of Asian ethnicity in predicting case disposition, service provisions, and child welfare placement.

Results:  The study revealed significant differences in the case characteristics and services provided for Asian families compared to non-Asian families investigated for child maltreatment in the Canadian child welfare system. Preliminary findings reveal higher rates of referrals from the school system and higher rates of physical abuse among Asian families than non-Asian families. Although substantiation levels do not differ significantly, the child welfare agencies were more likely to discontinue child welfare services for Asian children and less likely to refer to community support services compared to non-Asian investigations. When examining substantiated physical abuse child maltreatment investigations, it was found that children from Asian families were more likely to result in formal foster placement despite lower rates of emotional harm, no significant differences in physical harm, and fewer caregiver risk factors compared to non-Asian child maltreatment investigations. When controlling for other conditions, ethnicity is a statistically significant predictor for child welfare placement.

Conclusions and Implications:  The current study provides preliminary findings of Asian children and families’ involvement in the Canadian child welfare system. The study offers important findings for Asian children and families who are the fastest growing population in Canada. Additional research is required to further understand their experiences and the reasons for such discrepancies in services. There is a dearth of literature on Asian families in the Canadian child welfare system and the current study addresses this gap in the available literature in order to help ensure that child welfare services to Asian children and families are meeting their clinical needs.