Child Protection Investigations in Out-of-Home Care: Perpetrators, Victims, and Contexts

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13 Scopus citations


Keeping children safe in out-of-home care requires an understanding of the contexts under which maltreatment occurs. This study examines how maltreatment investigations differ across four settings (nonrelative foster, informal kinship, formal kinship, and congregate care). I focus on four elements of maltreatment: the perpetrator’s role (e.g., out-of-home caregiver and peer), maltreatment type, probability of substantiation, and victim characteristics. I use statewide Wisconsin administrative data in years 2005–2012, which has an analytic sample of over 96,000 placements. Data are analyzed using descriptive statistics and multi-level logistic regression. Alleged maltreatment is not uncommon in out-of-home care—the total investigation rate ranged from 5% (congregate care) to 15% (informal kinship care). Four percent of all placements were investigated for maltreatment by an out-of-home caregiver, of which 9% were substantiated. Maltreatment by peers (siblings or other foster children) was investigated in 1% of all placements, of which 20% were substantiated. Neglect was the most commonly alleged maltreatment type in informal kinship care, whereas physical abuse was most commonly alleged in all other placement types. Children who were female, Black, or between ages 6 and 10 experienced heightened risk of maltreatment in out-of-home care.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)251-257
Number of pages7
JournalChild Maltreatment
Issue number4
StatePublished - Nov 1 2015

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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