Objective: To examine child welfare cases involving infants (less than 1 year old) and identify factors predicting service provision at the conclusion of a maltreatment-related investigation. Method(s): This study involves a secondary analysis of the 2008 Ontario Incidence Study of Reported Child Abuse and Neglect (OIS-2008). Bivariate and multivariate analyses were conducted to identify the profile of investigations involving infants (n=538) and the factors predictive of the decision to transfer a case to ongoing services at the conclusion of the investigation, rather than close the case postinvestigation. Results: Primary caregiver functioning concerns emerged as the strongest predictor of the decision to transfer a case to ongoing service across different case referral sources. These included: cognitive impairment, victim of intimate partner violence (IPV), few social supports, drug/solvent abuse, mental health issues, and caregivers under the age of 21. Infant functioning (e.g., attachment issues, developmental delay) and investigation type (maltreatment or risk of maltreatment) did not predict ongoing service provision. Conclusions and Implications: The functioning of the caregiver is the strongest determinant of ongoing child welfare involvement with infants, with different caregiver vulnerabilities emerging as more salient depending on the type of referral sources (hospital; police; social services; non-professional community). Infant investigations involve mostly young primary caregivers who struggle with poverty, single-parenthood, lack of social supports, mental health issues, and intimate partner violence. Implication: Given the multi-problem experience of caregivers, prevention of maltreatment recurrence need to reflect multi-sector collaboration in order to promote infant health and caregiver resiliency. Infant functioning may be an under-considered domain among workers investigating maltreatment and may, therefore, limit the opportunity for resilience, including developmental recovery and issue-specific interventions.
Canadian CW research
International Journal of Child and Adolescence Resilience, 1(1), 35-47