Parenting Practices among Depressed Mothers in the Child Welfare Systemedit
The purpose of this study was to analyze a nationally representative sample of families referred to Child Protective Services (CPS) agencies, the National Survey of Child and Adolescent Weil-Being, to examine the association between maternal depression and parenting practices over a 36-month follow-up period. Three hypotheses were tested: (1) Depressed mothers are more likely to demonstrate harsh parenting than are nondepressed mothers; (2) depressed mothers are more likely to demonstrate neglectful parenting than are nondepressed mothers; and (3) depressed mothers are more likely to demonstrate emotional maltreatment than are nondepressed mothers. The interaction between depression and time was also analyzed for each parenting practice to determine how changes in maternal depression affected changes in parenting. The sample for this study was 1,536 mother-child dyads in which the child was age three to 10 years and remained in the home after a CPS investigation. Depression remained high across time points and was associated with increased risk of emotional maltreatment and neglect over a 36-month period. In addition, self-reported emotional maltreatment remained high across time points. Implications of this work are the needs for better identification of mental health needs for mothers entering the child welfare system and parent training to specifically address positive parenting.