Abstract: Family Risks of CPS Entry-Are Single Father Homes Different? (Society for Social Work and Research 27th Annual Conference - Social Work Science and Complex Problems: Battling Inequities + Building Solutions)

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Family Risks of CPS Entry-Are Single Father Homes Different?

Sunday, January 15, 2023
Hospitality 3 - Room 432, 4th Level (Sheraton Phoenix Downtown)
* noted as presenting author
Stacey Shipe, PhD, Postdoctoral Fellow, The Pennsylvania State University, PA
Christian Connell, PhD, Associate Professor, The Pennsylvania State University
Kate Guastaferro, PhD, Assistant Research Professor, The Pennsylvania State University
Lynsay Ayer, PhD, Senior Behavioral and Social Scientist, Rand Corporation
Background and Purpose: The past 15 years have shown a 40% increase in single father homes. Within the child welfare system, single father homes have also increased from 2.6% in 2004 to almost 4% in 2019. Despite single father homes outpacing single mother homes in growth, most child protective services (CPS) research continues to focus on the risk factors and outcomes of single mothers and non-residential fathers. Thus, this study aimed: 1) to identify underlying homogeneous patterns of caregiver and child risk factors among families involved in CPS investigations; 2) to examine how different family living types predict group membership (child and caregiver risk factors); and 3) to investigate the association between group membership, family living type, and CPS re-report.

Methods: This study used data from the National Child Abuse and Neglect Data System (NCANDS) FFY 2017. NCANDS contains child-specific data from all investigative reports on child maltreatment submitted to State CPS agencies. The first research question used all child and caregiver risks available in NCANDS. The second and third research questions used additional covariates including family living type (i.e., single father, single mother, and married parents), prior CPS history, allegation type and child demographic information (i.e, age, gender, race/ethnicity). Families were followed for 18 months to determine re-report. A series of analyses (i.e., latent class analysis [LCA], multinomial logistic regression analysis, and Bolck-Croon-Hagenaars (BCH) stepwise procedure for LCA) were employed using Mplus 8.6.

Results: To identify the optimal model, several fit indices (i.e., AIC, BIC, CAIC, SABIC, entropy, and model stability) were examined and four-class solution was determined:1) high financial and family risk (30.8%); 2) moderate financial and family risk (25.2%); 3) high financial, moderate family and housing risk (4.5%); and 4) low financial and family risk (39.3%). Multinomial logistic regression analysis found that compared to married parents, single fathers were more likely to be involved in all but the second group but were less likely to be in the third group. As for the association of group membership with re-report, single fathers and single mothers had higher odds of re-report if they were in group 1 or 3; however, single fathers had the highest odds of re-report in group 4. Across all groups, older children had lower odds for re-report. Similarly, families with multiple allegations had lower odds of re-report if they were in group 4; yet the odds were higher in the other groups. Families in group 4 who identified as Black, Latinx, or Multi-racial had lower odds of re-report as compared to White families.

Conclusion and Implications: Single father homes do appear to have different risks of CPS entry, especially if they presented with financial issues. They were more like single mother versus married homes, which is different from research in the general population. Yet, single fathers are the fastest growing family type and are slated to surpass single mother homes. Given their unique needs, it is necessary to take a proactive approach by further understanding and developing (or augmenting) interventions that address these needs.