Substantiated child maltreatment: Which factors do workers focus on when making this critical decision?

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Children and Youth Services Review, 87, 1-8

The decision to substantiate child maltreatment is one of the many complex decisions workers must make daily. Utilizing data from the Ontario Incidence study 2013, this paper examines what child, family and environmental characteristics workers paid attention to when making the determination that a child had experienced maltreatment. This study adds to the Canadian body of research on factors that influence the decision to substantiate maltreatment by exploring the Ontario population. Caregiver risk factors, uncooperative parents, older children, and children with emotional or mental health concerns all increase the likelihood of substantiation. The decision to substantiate current maltreatment was strongly influenced by the workers' assessment of the future risk of maltreatment. Further research is need to explore worker and organizational factors that also influence this risk focus and how much of an influence the current risk assessment tools have on the workers' assessment of future risk and substantiation.

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