Examining the relationship between economic hardship and child maltreatment using data from the Ontario Incidence Study of Reported Child Abuse and Neglect-2013 (OIS-2013)
There is strong evidence that poverty and economic disadvantage are associated with child maltreatment; however, research in this area is underdeveloped in Canada. The purpose of this paper is to examine the relationship between economic hardship and maltreatment for families and children identified to the Ontario child protection system for a maltreatment concern. Secondary analyses of the Ontario Incidence Study of Reported Child Abuse and Neglect-2013 (OIS-2013) were conducted. The OIS-2013 examines the incidence of reported maltreatment and the characteristics of children and families investigated by child welfare authorities in Ontario in 2013. Descriptive and bivariate chi-square analyses were conducted in addition to a logistic regression predicting the substantiation of maltreatment. In 9% of investigations, the household had run out of money for food, housing, and/or utilities in the past 6 months. Children in these households were more likely to have developmental concerns, academic difficulties, and caregivers with mental health concerns and substance use issues. Controlling for key clinical and case characteristics, children living in families facing economic hardship were almost 2 times more likely to be involved in a substantiated maltreatment investigation (OR = 1.91, p < 0.001). The implications in regard to future research and promoting resilience are discussed.