Demographic Profiles of Children Reported to the Child Welfare Systemedit
Specific demographic attributes of children who come to the attention of the child welfare system are important to examine so that targeted and appropriate interventions can be developed. This study, using data from the National Study of Child and Adolescent Well-Being longitudinal data set, explored key characteristics—developmental stage, gender, and ethnic status—in the child welfare reports of the participants (n = 5,483). Demographic profiles were compiled to discern unique between and within group differences with respect to maltreatment type, caregivers’ risk assessment reports, and children’s mental health functioning. Several statistically significant demographic profiles emerged: youth boys experienced more supervisory neglect than youth girls and also manifested more clinical range internalizing problems, while youth girls manifested more clinical range delinquency conduct than boys. Across all age groups, 2 ethnic groups—Hispanic and Other—were disproportionately affected by maltreatment type and caregivers’ display of risk factors, as well as in the manifestation of mental health difficulties. Differences in the presentation of caregiver risk factors emerged between the four developmental cohorts studied. The results are discussed in the context of designing developmentally, ethnically, and gender appropriate child welfare interventions.