41st Edition (March 2015)

Date Published

Barker, B., T. Kerr, et al. (2014). High prevalence of exposure to the child welfare system among street-involved youth in a Canadian setting: Implications for policy and practice. BMC Public Health 14(1).

The long-term trajectories of children who leave government care are often fraught with social, economic, and emotional challenges, including substance misuse and street-involvement. This study aimed to provide an estimate of the prevalence of prior history of government care among street-involved youth through a data from the At-Risk Youth Study (ARYS), which is a survey of a prospective cohort of 937 street-involved youth who used illicit drugs in Vancouver, Canada. Baseline data for the ARYS were collected from 2005 to 2012 from youth who were aged 14-26 and used drugs such as crack, cocaine, heroin, or crystal methamphetamine in the previous 30 days. In the ARYS, a history of being in government care was defined as an affirmative response to the question: “As a child, did you ever live in an orphanage, a foster home, a group home, as a ward of the state, or away from your parents for a month or more (not including vacations)?” The study found that 49% of street-involved youth had a history of government care. Typically, street involved youth who were more likely to report histories of government care were: Aboriginal,  started using drugs before age 15, did not complete high school, experienced parental substance abuse, had experienced sexual or physical abuse, and were Hepatitis C positive . Together, the findings show that when youth age out of government care, they may be susceptible to illicit drug use and street-involvement. The authors call for early interventions for youth currently in government care to ensure that youth are supported in finishing high school, accessing addiction treatments, and transitioning out of government care to independence.  

Stokes, J. & Taylor, J. (2014). Does type of harm matter? A factorial survey examining the influence of child neglect on child protection decision-making. Child Care in Practice, 20(4), 383-398.

This study was an analysis of the way in which social workers made decisions about the disposition of child maltreatment cases—specifically about the pattern of interventions used in cases of neglect. The cases examined were written vignettes—brief fictional descriptions of possible practice situations. Each vignette was a randomly selected combination of values of eight variables, including maltreatment category (neglect, physical abuse, sexual abuse or emotional harm). Subjects were 118 child care workers; each was given three randomly selected vignettes (total N = 327), and asked to estimate risk level and consider practice options. A multiple regression analysis showed that maltreatment category had a statistically significant effect on worker’s decision-making. Risk estimates and practice options for cases of neglect or emotional harm were at a significantly lower level than for physical or sexual abuse. As earlier research has shown that child neglect may lead to major developmental deficits, this suggests that the decision-making process needs to be examined.

Tanaka, M. & Wekerle, C. (2014). Dating violence among child welfare involved youth: Results from the Maltreatment and Adolescent Pathway (MAP) longitudinal study. International Journal of Child and Adolescent Resilience, 2, 29-31.

This study examined the experience of dating violence for adolescents involved with the child welfare system.  The study is a secondary analysis of data from MAP (Maltreatment and Adolescent Pathway) longitudinal survey, which randomly selected youth between the ages of 14 and 17 from a large urban child welfare catchment area in Ontario.  Participating youth were involved with the child welfare system at various points within the system, ranging from intake to out-of-home placement.  Participants were followed for two years, such that data were collected at six, 18, and 24 months past the initial data collection.  As part of the study, participants were asked about experience and frequency of conflict in their dating relationships.  A third of the participants reported dating experiences that did not include verbal, physical, or sexual abuse.  The overall prevalence of adolescent dating violence perpetration and victimization were similar across males and females. However, males involved with child welfare (excluding those living in foster care) were more likely to perpetrate and be victimized, compared with their counterparts living in foster care.  Slightly less than ten percent of the respondents reported dating violence at all four assessment points