Publication date: March 2020
Source: Child Abuse & Neglect, Volume 101
Author(s): Kristin R. Laurens, Fahkrul Islam, Maina Kariuki, Felicity Harris, Marilyn Chilvers, Merran Butler, Jill Schofield, Claire Essery, Sally A. Brinkman, Vaughan J. Carr, Melissa J. Green
Maltreated children are at risk of poor educational outcomes, but also experience greater individual, family, and neighbourhood adversities that may obscure an understanding of relationships between child protection involvement and educational attainment.
To examine associations between child protection involvement and 3rd- and 5th-grade reading and numeracy attainment, while controlling multiple other adversities.
Participants and Setting
Participants were 56,860 Australian children and their parents from the New South Wales Child Development Study with linked multi-agency records.
Multinomial logistic regressions examined associations between level of child protection involvement (Out-Of-Home Care [OOHC] placement; substantiated Risk Of Significant Harm [ROSH]; unsubstantiated ROSH; non-ROSH; and no child protection report) and standardised tests of 3rd- and 5th-grade reading and numeracy. Fully adjusted models controlled demographic, pregnancy, birth, and parental factors, and early (kindergarten) developmental vulnerabilities on literacy and numeracy, and other developmental domains (social, emotional, physical, communication).
All children with child protection reports were more likely to attain below average, and less likely to attain above average, 3rd- and 5th-grade reading and numeracy, including children with reports below the ROSH threshold. Children with substantiated ROSH reports who were not removed into care demonstrated the worst educational attainment, with some evidence of protective effects for children in OOHC.
A cross-agency response to supporting educational attainment for all children reported to child protection services is required, including targeted services for children in OOHC or with substantiated ROSH reports, and referral of vulnerable families (unsubstantiated and non-ROSH cases) to secondary service organisations (intermediate intervention).