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October 2003Vol. 4, No. 8Predictors of Recurrence in Child Protective Cases Involving Substance Abuse

A recent study published in the July 2003 issue of Children and Youth Services Review found four factors were associated with an increased risk of maltreatment recurrence within 60 days among families with substance abuse problems:

  • Presence of serious safety concerns due to caretaker drug or alcohol use
  • Determination that caretaker is at high risk for criminal behavior
  • Lack of police involvement during the investigation
  • Presence of a single, female, African-American head of household

The study involved 95 cases, randomly selected from the Illinois Child Abuse and Neglect Tracking System database, in which alcohol or drugs were related to the maltreatment report. All cases involved first-time child protective services (CPS) reports. More than one-quarter of the families in this study had a second maltreatment report within the 60-day timeframe.

Researchers cite a number of practice implications based on these findings, including:

  • The presence and severity of caretaker substance use should be included in CPS risk and safety assessments.
  • CPS workers need to be adequately trained to assess substance abuse problems.
  • Results of risk and safety assessments need to be translated into immediate services for families to ensure a child's safety and prevent the recurrence of maltreatment.
  • Appropriate substance abuse treatment services must be available to address the needs of families--most notably, families headed by single, African-American women.

A copy of this article can be obtained from the primary author:

Tamara Fuller
Children and Family Research Center
1203 W. Oregon
Urbana, IL 61801

Related Items

For more about addressing substance abuse in child welfare cases, see these articles in previous issues of Children's Bureau Express:

  • "Child Welfare-Substance Abuse Curricula and Resources" (June/July 2003)
  • "HHS Launches National Center on Substance Abuse and Child Welfare" (October 2002)
  • "CWLA Addresses Intersection Between Substance Abuse and Child Abuse" (November/December 2001)