Multiple jeopardy: poor, economically disconnected, and child welfare involved

Child Maltreat. 2012 Aug;17(3):195-206. doi: 10.1177/1077559512456737. Epub 2012 Aug 23.


Although the welfare literature reveals a growing number of parents who are economically disconnected, meaning neither employed nor receiving cash assistance, little is known about the prevalence and impacts of disconnection among child welfare-involved parents. This study took advantage of a statewide survey of child welfare-involved parents to examine economic disconnection in this population and to explore the relationship between disconnection and parent engagement in child welfare. One fifth of the sample reported that they were economically disconnected, with several patterns differentiating disconnected caregivers from those who received benefits or earned income through employment. Disconnected caregivers were younger and more frequently had children in out-of-home placements as opposed to receiving services in home than economically connected caregivers. They also reported higher unmet needs for basic services, such as housing and medical care, but were more likely to report financial help from their informal network. Finally, disconnected caregivers reported lower engagement in child welfare services even when controlling for demographic characteristics, chronic psychosocial risk factors, placement status, and maltreatment type. The findings document economic disconnection among child welfare-involved parents and raise important questions about the implications of disconnection for families and for child welfare outcomes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Child
  • Child Health Services / statistics & numerical data*
  • Child Welfare / economics
  • Child Welfare / statistics & numerical data*
  • Family Characteristics
  • Female
  • Health Services Accessibility
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Parents / psychology*
  • Poverty / statistics & numerical data*
  • Public Assistance / statistics & numerical data*
  • Unemployment / statistics & numerical data*
  • Washington