The objective of this study is to estimate the risk of a first recurrence over a five-year period following initial child protective services (CPS) intervention and identify the characteristics associated with the risk of recurrence for three different age groups. Recurrence is defined as the first substantiated report within the observation period after initial services have ended. The study involved a cohort of 25,897 Quebec children who received postinvestigation services for the first time and whose cases were closed between 2005 and 2009. Survival analysis was used to estimate the five-year risk of recurrence and Cox regression to model the risk of recurrence for three age groups. The covariates introduced into the regression analyses were characteristics of the child and initial services. The risk of recurrence in the five years following termination of initial CPS services was 36% for the entire cohort and varied depending on the child's age at the time of case closure. Children aged 6–11 when their cases were closed had the highest risk of recurrence. Although Aboriginal descent and prior CPS investigations have a consistent effect on the risk of recurrence in all three age groups, the effects of other covariates, such as out-of-home placement and court involvement, vary or are even reversed, depending on the child's age. These findings highlight the need to adopt a differential approach that takes into account the child's age, both in the provision of protective services and in research involving the population receiving such services.
Child Abuse & Neglect, 37: 1132-1141