Child Maltreatment in Families Receiving Mandatory Versus Voluntary Child Protection Support: A Matched Cohort Study

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Abstract

Child safety is an important outcome of child protection services (CPSs); however, this is often assessed in terms of official registries (e.g., rereports). Little empirical evidence is available about how the frequency of child maltreatment changes during CPS intervention by using self-report measures. The present study evaluates the frequency of child maltreatment experienced by children receiving mandatory child protection support compared to carefully matched children receiving voluntary child protection support. The current study is part of an ongoing Dutch longitudinal study on family violence consisting of several cohorts with similar designs. Both parents and children reported on the frequency of child maltreatment using validated questionnaires at two timepoints, 12 months apart. To facilitate careful comparison, both groups were matched using propensity scores based on background variables, resulting in two groups of N = 178 children. GLMM analyses showed a significant decrease in the mean number of child maltreatment incidents over time in the total group. However, this decrease did not differ for children receiving mandatory and voluntary child protection support. The findings indicate that, despite possible motivational challenges in the mandatory group, mandatory child protection support elicits comparable results as voluntary support. Implications for further research and practice are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
JournalChild and Family Social Work
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 10 Jun 2024

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2024 The Author(s). Child & Family Social Work published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd.

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