Canadian Research in Brief

Temporary placements: A crisis-management strategy for physically abused children?

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Child Abuse & Neglect, 86, 314-323

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Authors

Hébert, Sophie T.
Hélie, Sonia
Esposito, Tonino

A large majority of children who are placed outside the family home experience temporary placements (between 1 to 60 days) at some point in time. Yet, information on the use of temporary placements remains fragmentary, with only occasional indirect references. This scant information does, however, suggests a particular link between physical abuse and temporary placements. The objective of the present study is to describe the context in which temporary placements are used by children’s services in Quebec (Canada) while analyzing the associative link between temporary placements and physical abuse as the reason for the placement. Our study is based on a population cohort of 10,181 children placed in Quebec who have been followed for four years. Propensity-weighted multinomial regression analysis was used to assess the relative importance of the various individual pre-placement factors that may be associated with physical abuse. Results show that children investigated for physical abuse alone are 6.335 times more likely to have temporary placement trajectories compared to children investigated for other reasons. Cases that involved physical abuse combined with other reasons, were between 33.4% and 41% more likely to involve trajectories with temporary placements, than cases that were investigated for reasons other than physical abuse. Sex, age, and history of services have been used as covariates. In conclusion, the use of temporary placements is discussed with regards to the mandate of child-protection services and of certain etiological profiles of physical abuse.