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Special Issue "Using Big Data to Advance Knowledge in Child Maltreatment"

A special issue of International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health (ISSN 1660-4601).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 July 2017)

Special Issue Editors

Guest Editor
Prof. Dr. Melissa Jonson-Reid

Ralph & Muriel Professor of Social Work, George Warren Brown School of Social Work, Washington University, St. Louis, MO 63130, USA
Website | E-Mail
Interests: child maltreatment prevention and intervention; child welfare and cross-sector policy and services; outcomes for maltreated children
Guest Editor
Prof. Dr. Brett Drake

Professor of Social Work, George Warren Brown School of Social Work, Washington University, St. Louis, MO 63130, USA
Website | E-Mail
Interests: child maltreatment incidence; poverty; administrative data

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Advances in the linkage and use of administrative data have expanded our ability to understand the epidemiology and etiology of child maltreatment. Increasingly, these data are being used to better inform policy and intervention development. Further the ability to access very large data sets that are multi-level and longitudinal in nature offer the opportunity to apply more advanced statistical methods at the geographic, person or variable based levels. Many gaps remain, however, and the access to and appropriate use of these data can be challenging.

This Special Issue intends to highlight current and emerging trends in the use of so-called “Big Data” in child maltreatment research. We welcome both substantive articles on child maltreatment, as well as methodological pieces focused on ethics or analytic issues.

Prof. Dr. Melissa Jonson-Reid
Prof. Dr. Brett Drake
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1600 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • child maltreatment
  • administrative data
  • services research
  • methodological approaches to Big Data

Published Papers (9 papers)

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Research

Open AccessArticle Placement Stability, Cumulative Time in Care, and Permanency: Using Administrative Data from CPS to Track Placement Trajectories
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2017, 14(11), 1405; doi:10.3390/ijerph14111405 (registering DOI)
Received: 18 September 2017 / Revised: 24 October 2017 / Accepted: 9 November 2017 / Published: 17 November 2017
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Abstract
Objectives: The Quebec Youth Protection Act was amended in 2007. The main goal of this reform was to improve placement stability for children who are removed from their home for their protection. Among several legal provisions introduced was the establishment of maximum
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Objectives: The Quebec Youth Protection Act was amended in 2007. The main goal of this reform was to improve placement stability for children who are removed from their home for their protection. Among several legal provisions introduced was the establishment of maximum age-specific durations of out-of-home care, after which a plan must be established to provide stability for children placed in substitute care by finding permanent homes for them. The purpose of this study is (1) to examine trends in placement use and placement stability since the reform and (2) to document the current frequency of each type of placement setting, the cumulative time in care before the exit to permanency, and the sustainability of the permanency outcome. Methods: The study relies on 3 entry cohorts of all children investigated who received protection measures in the province of Quebec during 3 specific time frames before and after the reform (n = 9620, 8676, 8425). Cohorts were observed for a period varying from 3 to 4 years. Administrative data from all 16 child protection agencies were used to track placement trajectory indicators and to compare cohorts. Results: There has been a decrease in the proportion of children receiving protection measures who were placed in care since the reform, and placement in kinship care has become more frequent among children placed. Placement stability improved slightly after the reform. Overall, for infants, the most frequent type of permanency attained is adoption, while reunification is the option most often indicated for older children. Some children are at a greater risk of experiencing unstable placement trajectories: young children have a high rate of reunification breakdown, some wait a long time to be adopted, and adolescents are frequently removed from the substitute care setting where they were supposed to stay until the age of 18. Conclusions: The results suggest interesting avenues for policy makers and service providers to improve the stability of placement trajectories. Advantages and disadvantages of administrative data are discussed. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Using Big Data to Advance Knowledge in Child Maltreatment)
Open AccessFeature PaperArticle Maternal Mental Health Disorders and Reports to Child Protective Services: A Birth Cohort Study
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2017, 14(11), 1320; doi:10.3390/ijerph14111320
Received: 6 September 2017 / Revised: 13 October 2017 / Accepted: 14 October 2017 / Published: 30 October 2017
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Abstract
Background. Existing literature has documented a strong relationship between parental mental illness and child maltreatment, but little is known about the prevalence of mental illness among childbearing women. In the present study, linked administrative records were used to identify the prevalence of
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Background. Existing literature has documented a strong relationship between parental mental illness and child maltreatment, but little is known about the prevalence of mental illness among childbearing women. In the present study, linked administrative records were used to identify the prevalence of maternal mental health (MH) disorders documented at birth and determine the associated likelihood of maltreatment reports during infancy. Materials and Methods. Vital records for California’s 2006 birth cohort were linked to hospital discharge and Child Protective Services (CPS) records. The International Classification of Diseases, Ninth Revision, Clinical Modification (ICD-9-CM) billing codes from the mother’s delivery hospitalization were used to determine diagnosed maternal MH disorders for 551,232 infants born in 2006, and reports of alleged maltreatment were documented from CPS records. Vital birth records were used to control for sociodemographic factors. Finally, the associated risk of reported maltreatment during the first year of life was examined using generalized linear models. Results. Among infants in this statewide birth cohort, 2.8% were born to a mother with a documented MH disorder, of which 41.3% had documented maternal substance abuse issues versus less than 0.5% of infants born to mothers without a diagnosed MH disorder. Further, 34.6% of infants born to mothers with a MH disorder were reported to CPS within one year, and a majority of those reports were made within the first month of life (77.2%). In contrast, among children born to mothers without a MH disorder, 4.4% were reported to CPS during infancy. After controlling for sociodemographic factors, the rate of CPS reports during infancy for infants born to mothers with a MH disorder but no substance use disorder was 2.6 times that of infants born to mothers without a MH disorder (95% CI = 2.47, 2.73). Among infants born to mothers with MH and substance use disorders, the rate of CPS reports during infancy was 5.69 times that of infants born to mothers without a MH disorder (95% CI = 5.51, 5.87). Conclusions. Administrative records provide a method for identifying infants born to mothers with MH disorders, enabling researchers to track rates over time and generate population-level data to inform policy development and improve service delivery. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Using Big Data to Advance Knowledge in Child Maltreatment)
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Open AccessArticle How Can Data Drive Policy and Practice in Child Welfare? Making the Link in Canada
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2017, 14(10), 1223; doi:10.3390/ijerph14101223
Received: 31 July 2017 / Revised: 9 October 2017 / Accepted: 13 October 2017 / Published: 14 October 2017
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Abstract
Formal university–child welfare partnerships offer a unique opportunity to begin to fill the gaps in the child welfare knowledge base and link child welfare services to the realities of practice. With resources from a knowledge mobilization grant, a formal partnership was developed between
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Formal university–child welfare partnerships offer a unique opportunity to begin to fill the gaps in the child welfare knowledge base and link child welfare services to the realities of practice. With resources from a knowledge mobilization grant, a formal partnership was developed between the University of Toronto, clinicians, policy analysts, and researchers from child welfare agencies across Ontario. The key objectives of the grant included: (1) enhancing the capacity of service providers to access and analyze child welfare data to inform service and policy decisions; (2) integrating clinical expertise in service and policy decisions; and (3) developing a joint research agenda addressing high-priority knowledge gaps. This partnership was an opportunity to advance the evidence base with respect to service provision in Ontario and to create a culture of knowledge and evidence that would eventually support more complex research initiatives. Administrative data was analyzed for this partnership through the Ontario Child Abuse and Neglect Data System (OCANDS)—the first child welfare data system in Ontario to track child welfare-involved children and their families. Child welfare agencies identified recurrence as an important priority and agency-driven analyses were subsequently conducted on OCANDS generated recurrence Service Performance Indicators (SPI’s). Using an urgent versus chronic investigative taxonomy for analyses, findings revealed that the majority of cases did not recur within 12 months and cases identified as chronic needs are more likely to return to the attention of child welfare authorities. One of the key outcomes of the partnership — helping agencies to understand their administrative data is described, as are considerations for next steps for future partnerships and research. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Using Big Data to Advance Knowledge in Child Maltreatment)
Open AccessFeature PaperArticle Predicting Child Protective Services (CPS) Involvement among Low-Income U.S. Families with Young Children Receiving Nutritional Assistance
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2017, 14(10), 1197; doi:10.3390/ijerph14101197
Received: 4 August 2017 / Revised: 29 September 2017 / Accepted: 3 October 2017 / Published: 11 October 2017
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Abstract
This exploratory study examines combinations of income-tested welfare benefits and earnings, as they relate to the likelihood of child maltreatment investigations among low-income families with young children participating in a nutritional assistance program in one U.S. state (Wisconsin). Using a sample of 1065
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This exploratory study examines combinations of income-tested welfare benefits and earnings, as they relate to the likelihood of child maltreatment investigations among low-income families with young children participating in a nutritional assistance program in one U.S. state (Wisconsin). Using a sample of 1065 parents who received the Special Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) benefits in late 2010 and early 2011, we find that relying on either work in the absence of other means-tested welfare benefits, or a combination of work and welfare benefits, reduces the likelihood of CPS involvement compared to parents who rely on welfare benefits in the absence of work. Additionally, we find that housing instability increases the risk of CPS involvement in this population. The findings from this investigation may be useful to programs serving low-income families with young children, as they attempt to identify safety net resources for their clientele. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Using Big Data to Advance Knowledge in Child Maltreatment)
Open AccessArticle Foster Care Dynamics and System Science: Implications for Research and Policy
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2017, 14(10), 1181; doi:10.3390/ijerph14101181
Received: 5 September 2017 / Revised: 28 September 2017 / Accepted: 30 September 2017 / Published: 5 October 2017
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Abstract
Although system is a word frequently invoked in discussions of foster care policy and practice, there have been few if any attempts by child welfare researchers to understand the ways in which the foster care system is a system. As a consequence, insights
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Although system is a word frequently invoked in discussions of foster care policy and practice, there have been few if any attempts by child welfare researchers to understand the ways in which the foster care system is a system. As a consequence, insights from system science have yet to be applied in meaningful ways to the problem of making foster care systems more effective. In this study, we draw on population biology to organize a study of admissions and discharges to foster care over a 15-year period. We are interested specifically in whether resource constraints, which are conceptualized here as the number of beds, lead to a coupling of admissions and discharges within congregate care. The results, which are descriptive in nature, are consistent with theory that ties admissions and discharges together because of a resource constraint. From the data, it is clear that the underlying system exerts an important constraint on what are normally viewed as individual-level decisions. Our discussion calls on extending efforts to understand the role of system science in studies of child welfare systems, with a particular emphasis on the role of feedback as a causal influence. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Using Big Data to Advance Knowledge in Child Maltreatment)
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Open AccessArticle A Longitudinal Study of Child Maltreatment and Mental Health Predictors of Admission to Psychiatric Residential Treatment Facilities
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2017, 14(10), 1141; doi:10.3390/ijerph14101141
Received: 1 August 2017 / Revised: 18 September 2017 / Accepted: 25 September 2017 / Published: 28 September 2017
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Abstract
The child welfare system is an access point for children’s mental health services. Psychiatric residential treatment facilities (PRTFs) are the most restrictive, and most expensive setting for children to receive long-term care. Given the high rates of behavioral health concerns among maltreated children
[...] Read more.
The child welfare system is an access point for children’s mental health services. Psychiatric residential treatment facilities (PRTFs) are the most restrictive, and most expensive setting for children to receive long-term care. Given the high rates of behavioral health concerns among maltreated children in out-of-home care, research is needed to examine the factors that predict entry in PRTFs among children investigated for maltreatment. This exploratory study used cross-sector administrative records linked across multiple systems, including child welfare records and Medicaid claims, from a single state over a five-year period (n = 105,982). Cox proportional hazards modeling was used to predict entry into a PRTF. After controlling for many factors, PRTF entry was predicted by diagnosis code indicating a trauma-related condition, antipsychotic medication prescriptions, and entry into lower levels of out-of-home care, supporting the view that youth are admitted to PRTFs largely due to clinical need. However, PRTF admission is also associated with characteristics of their experiences with the social service system, primarily foster care placement stability and permanency. Implications for practice and research are discussed. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Using Big Data to Advance Knowledge in Child Maltreatment)
Open AccessArticle New Methods to Address Old Challenges: The Use of Administrative Data for Longitudinal Replication Studies of Child Maltreatment
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2017, 14(9), 1066; doi:10.3390/ijerph14091066
Received: 10 August 2017 / Revised: 2 September 2017 / Accepted: 6 September 2017 / Published: 15 September 2017
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Abstract
Administrative data are crucial to the “big data” revolution of social science and have played an important role in the development of child maltreatment research. These data are also of value to administrators, policy makers, and clinicians. The focus of this paper is
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Administrative data are crucial to the “big data” revolution of social science and have played an important role in the development of child maltreatment research. These data are also of value to administrators, policy makers, and clinicians. The focus of this paper is the use of administrative data to produce and replicate longitudinal studies of child maltreatment. Child protection administrative data have several advantages. They are often population-based, and allow longitudinal examination of child maltreatment and complex multi-level analyses. They also allow comparison across subgroups and minority groups, remove burden from individuals to disclose traumatic experiences, and can be less biased than retrospective recall. Finally, they can be linked to data from other agencies to explore comorbidity and outcomes, and are comparatively cost and time effective. The benefits and challenges associated with the use of administrative data for longitudinal child maltreatment research become magnified when these data are used to produce replications. Techniques to address challenges and support future replication efforts include developing a biographical understanding of the systems from which the data are drawn, using multiple data sources to contextualize the data and research results, recognizing and adopting various approaches to replication, and documenting all data coding and manipulation processes. These techniques are illustrated in this paper via a case study of previous replication work. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Using Big Data to Advance Knowledge in Child Maltreatment)
Open AccessArticle The Effects of Socioeconomic Vulnerability, Psychosocial Services, and Social Service Spending on Family Reunification: A Multilevel Longitudinal Analysis
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2017, 14(9), 1040; doi:10.3390/ijerph14091040
Received: 1 August 2017 / Revised: 30 August 2017 / Accepted: 6 September 2017 / Published: 9 September 2017
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Abstract
Socio-environmental factors such as poverty, psychosocial services, and social services spending all could influence the challenges faced by vulnerable families. This paper examines the extent to which socioeconomic vulnerability, psychosocial service consultations, and preventative social services spending impacts the reunification for children placed
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Socio-environmental factors such as poverty, psychosocial services, and social services spending all could influence the challenges faced by vulnerable families. This paper examines the extent to which socioeconomic vulnerability, psychosocial service consultations, and preventative social services spending impacts the reunification for children placed in out-of-home care. This study uses a multilevel longitudinal research design that draws data from three sources: (1) longitudinal administrative data from Quebec’s child protection agencies; (2) 2006 and 2011 Canadian Census data; and, (3) intra-province health and social services data. The final data set included all children (N = 39,882) placed in out-of-home care for the first time between 1 April 2002 and 31 March 2013, and followed from their initial out-of-home placement. Multilevel hazard results indicate that socioeconomic vulnerability, controlling for psychosocial services and social services spending, contributes to the decreased likelihood of reunification. Specifically, socioeconomic vulnerability, psychosocial services, and social services spending account for 24.0% of the variation in jurisdictional reunification for younger children less than 5 years of age, 12.5% for children age 5 to 11 years and 21.4% for older children age 12 to 17 years. These findings have implications for decision makers, funding agencies, and child protection agencies to improve jurisdictional resources to reduce the socioeconomic vulnerabilities of reunifying families. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Using Big Data to Advance Knowledge in Child Maltreatment)
Open AccessArticle Surveillance Bias in Child Maltreatment: A Tempest in a Teapot
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2017, 14(9), 971; doi:10.3390/ijerph14090971
Received: 24 July 2017 / Revised: 16 August 2017 / Accepted: 18 August 2017 / Published: 28 August 2017
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Abstract
Background: Children are believed to be more likely to be reported for maltreatment while they are working with mental health or social service professionals. This “surveillance bias” has been claimed to inflate reporting by fifty percent or more, and has been used to
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Background: Children are believed to be more likely to be reported for maltreatment while they are working with mental health or social service professionals. This “surveillance bias” has been claimed to inflate reporting by fifty percent or more, and has been used to explain why interventions such as home visiting fail to reduce official maltreatment reporting rates. Methods: We use national child abuse reporting data (n = 825,763), supplemented by more detailed regional data from a multi-agency administrative data study (n = 7185). We determine the percentage of all re-reports made uniquely by mental health and social service providers within and across generations, the report sources which could be subject to surveillance bias. Results: At three years after the initial Child protective services (CPS) report, the total percentage of national reports uniquely made by mental health or social service providers is less than 10%, making it impossible that surveillance bias could massively inflate CPS reporting in this sample. Analysis of national data find evidence of a very small (+4.54%) initial surveillance bias “bump” among served cases which decays to +1.84% within three years. Our analysis of regional data showed similar or weaker effects. Conclusions: Surveillance bias effects appear to exist, but are very small. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Using Big Data to Advance Knowledge in Child Maltreatment)
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