Caseworker assessment of child risk and functioning and their relation to service use in the child welfare system

Christian M. Connell, Christopher T. Bory, Cindy Y. Huang, Maegan Genovese, Colleen Caron, Jacob Kraemer Tebes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Children within the child welfare system are more likely to experience emotional and behavioral problems than children not involved with the system. Many states have adopted standardized risk and assessment measures to inform decision-making on appropriate levels of care related to placement or service intensity for children within the system. This study examined the relationship of caseworker ratings of risk across multiple domains to youth functioning and service use for a sample of children open to the child welfare system. The study identified a stratified random sample of youth who were between the ages of five and 21 and open to the child welfare system (n = 184). Stratification was based on current placement (i.e., in-home, foster home, congregate care, and juvenile justice placements). Administrative data was used to access caseworker ratings of risk across child, parent, and family domains using a standardized risk assessment tool. Children's caseworkers (n = 103) completed a standardized measure of child functioning and reported on youth utilization of services across multiple sectors including specialty mental health, school-based, juvenile justice, and medical settings. Regression analyses using variance-corrected estimation for clustered data (by caseworker) revealed higher levels of child risk were associated with poorer child functioning, which, in turn, were associated with higher rates of multi-sector service use. Recommendations and future directions are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)81-86
Number of pages6
JournalChildren and Youth Services Review
StatePublished - Apr 2019

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science


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