Abstract: (Withdrawn) Partnering with Families after a Child Abuse Investigation: Examining Recidivism Among Families Referred to Home-Based, Post-Investigation Services and a Comparison Group (Society for Social Work and Research 27th Annual Conference - Social Work Science and Complex Problems: Battling Inequities + Building Solutions)

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(Withdrawn) Partnering with Families after a Child Abuse Investigation: Examining Recidivism Among Families Referred to Home-Based, Post-Investigation Services and a Comparison Group

Sunday, January 15, 2023
Estrella, 2nd Level (Sheraton Phoenix Downtown)
* noted as presenting author
James Simon, PhD, LCSW, Assistant Professor, California State University, Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA
Todd Franke, PhD, Professor of Social Welfare, University of California, Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA
Background and Purpose

Child protective services agencies (CPS) in the U.S. investigate millions of children for suspected child abuse annually, and nearly 40% received home-based, post-investigation services (HBPS) to prevent future maltreatment (USDHHS, 2022). Although several studies have examined recidivism (e.g., re-reports and substantiation) following the receipt of HBPS, studies examining the impact of HBPS don’t use adequate comparison groups or are limited to one outcome. In response, this study compared families who received HBPS to a group of families that were investigated but did not receive HBPS using two indicators of CPS recidivism including a federal indicator of maltreatment to better understand the broader impact of HBPS.


Data were obtained on 4,079 children whose families received HBPS through the Partnership for Families (PFF) program following an allegation of maltreatment between January 2014 and June 2018. They were compared to 4,221 families that were randomly selected from a pool of families investigated (and eligible for services) during the same timeframe but that did not receive HBPS. To estimate the impact of PFF on recidivism, a federal methodology was utilized capturing the substantiation rate one year following the initial report that was adapted for PFF. Bivariate analyses were used to compare the substantiation rate among both groups using this methodology and to compare them on various demographic and case characteristics associated with recidivism including age, ethnicity, estimated median-family income per zip code, allegation type, and substantiation status using Pearson’s Chi-2 Tests. A multivariable logistic regression was subsequently conducted to analyze the effect of PFF on a CPS re-report and a substantiated re-report while adjusting for the aforementioned demographic and case characteristics; recidivism data were obtained until August 2021 allowing for comparisons ranging from 4 ½ to 7 years.


PFF had an average substantiation rate of 7.9% at one year and 14.5% overall using the federal methodology adapted for PFF; this was slightly higher than the comparison group. Subsequent bivariate analyses indicated that families referred to PFF had lower re-report rates at one year and during the overall study period relative to the comparison group. In contrast, the substantiation report for PFF families at both one year and over the entire study period was slightly higher for families participating in PFF relative to the comparison group. Multivariate analyses indicated that successful completion of PFF was associated with lower re-referral rates and substantiation rates even after adjusting for demographic and case characteristics.

Conclusions and Implications

These findings suggest that PFF is making a short-term and long-term impact on the re-referral and substantiation rates among high-risk families after a child abuse investigation. Although the PFF substantiation rates were higher than the comparison group, they were lower than the national standard of 9.1% at 1 year. Our findings emphasize the importance of ensuring that participants complete PFF successfully as this reduced both re-referral rates and substantiation rates. Last, these findings also emphasize the importance of examining multiple outcomes capturing recidivism and using randomly-selected comparison groups to improve the evaluation of HBPS.