Substantiation and maltreatment rereporting: A propensity score analysis

Tamara Fuller, Martin Nieto

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Although it is a widely used indicator, the use of substantiation in child welfare practice and research is not without critics. Much of this criticism concerns the ability of the substantiation disposition to distinguish between child protective services (CPS) investigations in which maltreatment occurs or does not occur. This study examined the relationship between substantiation and maltreatment rereporting using an analytic technique known as propensity score matching (PSM). Children with initially substantiated maltreatment reports were at significantly higher risk for rereporting than those with initially unsubstantiated reports, even after matching the two groups on propensity scores based on several demographic and case characteristics. Although additional study using PSM on other samples is warranted, this evidence supports the predictive validity of the substantiation disposition and its continued use as one factor to consider when allocating limited post-investigation services.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)27-37
Number of pages11
JournalChild Maltreatment
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2009


  • Propensity scores
  • Recurrence
  • Rereporting
  • Substantiation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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