Maltreatment that begins during infancy is likely to be chronic in duration and developmentally consequential if the appropriate intervention is not delivered. Repeated reports of maltreatment may signal unmet service needs. This study prospectively followed infants who remained at home following an initial report of maltreatment to determine the rate of re-reporting within 5 years. Birth records for all children born in California in 2006 were linked to statewide child protection records through 2012; 5.2% (n = 29,135) of children were reported for abuse or neglect prior to age 1. Following an initial report, 81.9% of infants remained in the home, the majority (60.7%) of whom were re-reported within 5 years. The highest rate of re-reporting was observed among infants whose initial allegation was substantiated and who had a case opened for family maintenance services (69.1%). Infants whose initial allegation was not investigated had re-reporting rates that were equal to or higher than other infants remaining in the home without services. Findings highlight that most families with infants reported for maltreatment are not formally served through the child protection system. High rates of re-reporting underscore the challenge of delivering services that remedy conditions necessitating child protection follow-up and call attention to the importance of accessing data from community service providers.
Keywords: child maltreatment; infants; recidividism.
© The Author(s) 2014.