Using a range of methodologies and populations, this symposium aims to inform policy and highlight the need to develop a range of programs that fit the needs of young children involved with the Child Welfare System (CWS). Exposure to adverse childhood experiences, such as child abuse and neglect, during early life can disrupt healthy development. These studies used linked, administrative data to examine young children with CWS involvement. Specifically, Paper 1 identified subpopulations of mother-child dyads that vary in their risk of a maltreatment report to CPS for alleged abuse or neglect during the first three years of life based on factors recorded at birth. Paper 2 builds upon this work and examined factors that led to two-generation CWS involvement, the family's identified risks or protective factors, and documented service provision. Paper 3 showed that mothers' modifiable characteristics were associated with child risk among second born children. Paper 4 assessed family interactions with High-quality Early Childhood Education (ECE) and family-support programs.
While all studies leveraged administrative data, various methodologies were used for the studies. Paper 1 used Latent Class Analysis (LCA) to identify three classes of offspring born to mother-child dyads who were at increased risk of CPS involvement from California. Paper 2 leveraged case narrative records to conduct a qualitative analyses assessing child safety among this same population. Paper 3 used logistic regression model to analyze how changing factors between the first and subsequent birth were associated with mothers' repeated involvement with CWS after their first child's report. Paper 4 used cohort analysis and visualization methods to track transitions across ECE programs and between ECE and CWS.
These studies identified opportunities for intervention. Paper 1, specifically, demonstrates the need to create programs that fit the needs of babies born to mothers in foster care, assess the effectiveness of programs delivered to these families, and replicate policies that are improving outcomes for parents in care and offspring. Paper 2 highlighted barriers to service provision for mothers in care and supported the utility of analyzing child welfare case narrative records. Paper 3 highlights that a sibling's history of CWS involvement may signal a family in need of comprehensive services for later-born siblings. Paper 4 shows youth in CWS receive significant social-emotional and cognitive benefits from high-quality ECE services, improving safety and well-being while in care and into the future. Findings add depth to our understanding of factors associated with CWS involvement, demonstrate the potential to inform policy and practice using linked administrative data, and highlight the need to develop a range of services that fit parents in care and their offspring.