The National Survey of Child and Adolescent Well Being

Categories:
Adoption, Child Abuse & Neglect, Domestic Violence, Education, Families, Foster care, Health Factors, Women’s Issues, Youth

Increasing Our Understanding of Children and Families Who Come into Contact with the Child Welfare System

By Mary Bruce Webb, Division Director, Division of Child and Family Development, Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation

Beginning in 1999, our work on the National Survey of Child and Adolescent Well Being has sought to answer questions about the functioning, service needs, and service use of children who encounter the child welfare system. Our recent publications from the survey focus on:

  • The sexual activity of teenage girls
  • Domestic violence among mothers of children reported for maltreatment
  • Outcomes for children 36 months after a maltreatment report

A spotlight on the sexual activity of teenage girls highlights the finding that three years after the report of abuse, almost a third of girls aged 18 - 20 reported that they had experienced forced sex; one in eight had unforced sex at age 13 or younger, and almost half had a pregnancy.

Line graph showing rates of sexual activity and pregnancy among teen girls involved with child welfare

 

The second spotlight examines domestic violence among mothers of children reported for child maltreatment. It compares data from NSCAW I, which began in 1999, and NSCAW II, which began in 2008. The spotlight reports a small decline across the two cohorts (28.9 percent vs. 24.7 percent), but no change in service access, with about 15 percent of victims receiving domestic violence services.

A line graph showing rates of domestic violence among mothers of children reported for child maltreatment.

 

Detailed tables on children 36 months after an abuse report describe their characteristics, functioning, service needs and use; their caregivers’ characteristics, service needs, and use; and child welfare outcomes. For example, 49.9 percent children placed out of home achieved permanency, 24.4 percent through adoption, 73.3 percent through reunification, and 2.3 percent through discharge to relatives.

These findings contribute to a better understanding of children’s health, mental health, and developmental risks, especially for those children who experienced the most severe abuse and exposure to violence.

For more information on the study, visit OPRE’s National Survey of Child and Adolescent Well Being page.

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