When considering reunification, child welfare caseworkers are faced with the difficult challenge of predicting which caretakers will be able to provide a safe environment for their children once they return home. Unfortunately, although an increasing number of studies have examined maltreatment recurrence during investigation and following case opening, little is known about the factors that predict maltreatment recurrence following reunification. Using a case-control design and information gathered from a child welfare administrative database and client case records, the current study examined the factors that predict short-term (i.e., within 60 days) maltreatment recurrence among 174 families with children returning home from their first stay in substitute care. From a variety of child, caretaker, placement, family environment, and service provision characteristics, seven variables uniquely added to the prediction of maltreatment recurrence: 1) child age, 2) caretaker mental illness, 3) number of placements, 4) type of placement, 5) length of time in placement, 6) number of children in the home at reunification, and 7) the interaction between household structure at reunification and the presence of siblings returned home with the index child. The implications of these findings for child welfare practice and future research are discussed in detail.
- Child safety
- Maltreatment recurrence
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Developmental and Educational Psychology
- Sociology and Political Science