A troubled group? Adolescents in a Canadian child welfare sample

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Children and Youth Services Review, 46, 47-54.

This study aimed to fill in a research gap regarding adolescents and how child welfare responds to adolescents once an investigation has been initiated. The authors examine characteristics of the adolescents and their homes (e.g. type of maltreatment, socioeconomic status) to determine how and what service provision(s) follow, up to and including out-of-home placement.

By using secondary data analysis of the Canadian Incidence Study on Child Abuse and Neglect (2008), the authors drew several conclusions. Firstly, adolescents who were exhibiting internalized problems (e.g. depression) were most likely to receive ongoing service. Secondly, adolescents who exhibited external problems (e.g. drug abuse, aggression) were more likely to be placed in out-of home care. Despite being investigated less often than other age categories, adolescents tended to receive ongoing service as much as younger children, with the exception of those under the age of three.

Overall, the authors suggest that service decisions are determined by how these adolescents are functioning internally, and placement decisions are driven by how they are behaving externally. Notably, the study confirmed that Aboriginal children are more likely to be investigated, provided service to, and placed in out-of-home care than non-Aboriginal children.

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Canadian CW research