A content analysis of case records: Two-generations of child protective services involvement

Child and Youth Services Review, April 2019

Andrea Lane Eastman PhD MA, Lisa Schelbe PhD MSW, & Jacquelyn McCroskey 

Suggested Citation

Eastman, A. L., Schelbe, L., & McCroskey, J. (2019). A content analysis of case records: Two-generations of child protective services involvement. Children and Youth Services Review, 99, 308-318. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.childyouth.2018.12.030


Children born to mothers in foster care have increased numbers of reports of alleged abuse or neglect in comparison to children born to mothers who are not in care. The present investigation leveraged unstructured, case narrative fields in child welfare records to enhance knowledge about Child Protective Services (CPS) involvement among children born to mothers in care. A content analysis was conducted to assess reasons described for CPS involvement among children who were (1) born to mothers who were in foster care on or after the estimated date of conception and (2) reported to CPS during the first 3 years of life. The present investigation builds upon a prior Latent Class Analysis that identified classes of children born to mothers in care who were at varying risk of CPS involvement. Thirteen mother-child dyads from each of the three distinct classes identified in the prior study were selected for a detailed examination of mother and child case records (N = 39). Findings show class membership varied based on the mother’s earlier experiences in care and reasons for the children’s maltreatment report. A lack of placement stability for the mother can have long term consequences for the mother with cascading effects for the children. Study findings illustrate the importance of linking parents to services that meet their unique needs and those of their children. Findings add depth to the understanding of factors associated with the maltreatment of children born to mothers in foster care and demonstrate the importance of two-generation strategies.


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