The Effects of Socioeconomic Vulnerability, Psychosocial Services, and Social Service Spending on Family Reunification: A Multilevel Longitudinal Analysis

Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2017 Sep 9;14(9):1040. doi: 10.3390/ijerph14091040.


Socio-environmental factors such as poverty, psychosocial services, and social services spending all could influence the challenges faced by vulnerable families. This paper examines the extent to which socioeconomic vulnerability, psychosocial service consultations, and preventative social services spending impacts the reunification for children placed in out-of-home care. This study uses a multilevel longitudinal research design that draws data from three sources: (1) longitudinal administrative data from Quebec's child protection agencies; (2) 2006 and 2011 Canadian Census data; and, (3) intra-province health and social services data. The final data set included all children (N = 39,882) placed in out-of-home care for the first time between 1 April 2002 and 31 March 2013, and followed from their initial out-of-home placement. Multilevel hazard results indicate that socioeconomic vulnerability, controlling for psychosocial services and social services spending, contributes to the decreased likelihood of reunification. Specifically, socioeconomic vulnerability, psychosocial services, and social services spending account for 24.0% of the variation in jurisdictional reunification for younger children less than 5 years of age, 12.5% for children age 5 to 11 years and 21.4% for older children age 12 to 17 years. These findings have implications for decision makers, funding agencies, and child protection agencies to improve jurisdictional resources to reduce the socioeconomic vulnerabilities of reunifying families.

Keywords: family reunification; jurisdictional effects; longitudinal; multilevel; socioeconomic vulnerability.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Child Protective Services
  • Child, Preschool
  • Decision Making
  • Family*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Multilevel Analysis
  • Poverty*
  • Probability
  • Quebec
  • Social Work*