Exploring Parental Risk Factors in Child Protective Services’ Investigations of Neglect: A California-Based Study

Exploring Parental Risk Factors

Exploring Parental Risk Factors in Child Protective Services’ Investigations of Neglect: A California-Based Study

Child neglect is the most common form of child maltreatment investigated by Child Protective Services (CPS) in the United States. Around 75% of substantiated maltreatment reports in 2019 involved neglect, a substantial increase from 58% in 1999 (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services [USDHHS], 2021). A recent population-based study conducted in California by Turney and Wildeman (2022) aimed to identify the types of neglect and concurrent parental risk factors investigated by CPS.

The study analyzed a representative sample of 295 neglect investigations in 2017, using structured data and narrative text fields. The most common types of neglect identified were inadequate supervision (44%) and failure to protect (29%), while physical neglect, defined as inadequate food, housing, or hygiene, accounted for only 14% of the cases (Turney & Wildeman, 2022).

The study also found that parental risk factors, such as substance use, domestic violence, and mental illness, were common in neglect investigations. Specifically, parental substance use was identified in 41% of investigations, domestic violence in 21%, mental illness in 18%, and co-reported physical or sexual abuse in 29% (Turney & Wildeman, 2022). In almost all investigations of physical neglect, concerns related to substance use, domestic violence, mental illness, co-reported abuse, or an additional neglect allegation were included (Turney & Wildeman, 2022).

These findings suggest that poverty-based material hardship is not the sole factor driving CPS-investigated neglect. Rather, parental risk factors play a significant role, and addressing these concerns requires an array of behavioral-health supports in addition to economic supports (Turney & Wildeman, 2022). The study highlights the importance of providing adequate support to families with parental risk factors to prevent neglect and promote child well-being.

In conclusion, neglect is a significant problem affecting many American children, and CPS investigations play a critical role in addressing this issue. Turney and Wildeman’s (2022) study sheds light on the types of neglect and parental risk factors investigated by CPS and emphasizes the need for a comprehensive approach to support families and prevent neglect.

References: Turney, K., & Wildeman, C. (2022). What Does Child Protective Services Investigate as Neglect? A Population-Based Study. Journal of Interpersonal Violence. https://doi.org/10.1177/10775595221114144

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (2021). Child Maltreatment 2019. https://www.acf.hhs.gov/sites/default/files/documents/cb/cm2019.pdf


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