The lack of research on usual care services in child protective services (CPS) is a significant gap in the research and in the field’s ability to understand how to improve services to prevent maltreatment. This study examines subsequent reports (SR) and subsequent substantiated reports (SSR) by treatment completion status in a post-differential response, voluntary, state-funded, community-based program designed to engage and strengthen natural and community-based supports, and provide linkages to additional community services. Exploratory analyses of characteristics associated with program participation were conducted.
Data are from one state’s CPS administrative and community program data analyzed at the family level (n= 6,272) from families with an index report and first assignment to the community program from October 2014 – March 2018. Logistic regression was used with any SRs (40.1%) and SSRs (11.1%) within 18-months of index. Bivariate analyses compared family and case characteristics by program participation, SR, and SSR. Participation was divided into four categories: (1) CPS referral only (n=1,754), (2) evaluation only (n=573), (3) family discontinued services (n=621), and (4) treatment goals met (n=3,324).
Families were racially/ethnically diverse (39.0% White, 22.5% Black, 37.5% Latinx, and 1.0% other). Chi-square statistics suggest both logistic regression models were statistically significant: SR (X2 (df=31) = 320.0, p < .001); SSR (X2 (df=31) = 207.1, p < .001). Families who met treatment goals were significantly less likely to have an SSR than the referral only, evaluation only, and families who discontinued services. Compared to families who met treatment goals, families who discontinued services were estimated to have a 39.7% higher likelihood of receiving a SSR (OR 1.40, p=.025); evaluation only families had a 60.2% higher likelihood (p=.005); and referral only families had a 64% higher likelihood (p=.002). Other variables significantly associated with receiving an SSR included age of youngest victim, prior report history, and caregiver’s substance abuse history. Program participation was not significant for SR. Exploratory analyses identified that families who met goals were less likely to have only ‘neglect’ factors identified in the risk assessment, children under age two, and a history of caregiver substance abuse. They were more likely to have children with an identified risk factor such as mental health/behavioral problem. Descriptions of assessed need, services referred, received and not received will be presented to provide a comprehensive description of this community program.
Conclusion and Discussion
Families who met treatment goals were less likely to have a more serious maltreatment report (an SSR) than families who were referred, but did not engage in the program, families who only completed the evaluation at the program, and families who discontinued services. There was no effect for any subsequent report. This suggests that the program is successful at reducing escalation of maltreatment for families who meet their treatment goals and that engagement efforts may decrease subsequent substantiated reports. Exploratory analyses of program participation identified characteristics associated with program participation category. Further research is needed to understand the role of these factors in meeting treatment goals.