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Half of Children Born to Mothers in Child Protective Custody Also Taken Into Care by Age 2

5/29/2018

A study in the June 2018 Pediatrics found that nearly half of the children born to adolescent mothers in child protective services such as foster care, also ended up in protective custody by their second birthday. The study, “The Cycle of Child Protection ServicesInvolvement: A Cohort Study of Adolescent Mothers” (published online May 29), looked at data from the Population Data Research Repository at Canada’s Manitoba Centre for Health Policy. Rates of children in child protective services care in this province are among the highest in Canada, and higher than in most developed countries. Among the 5,942 mothers studied who themselves were in care, 25 percent had their children taken into care the first week, an additional 17 percent had a child taken into care between 7 days and 1 year, and 7 percent had a child taken into care between the child’s first and second birthday. This resulted in almost half of children being taken into protective custody before their second birthday--much higher than the 10 percent of children taken into care among adolescent mothers who were not in care when they gave birth. Researchers said mothers who give birth while in care have specific needs that may not be met by existing services available to adolescent mothers to assist in the transition to motherhood. Learning the age children are most likely to be taken into care can help to identify time periods during which additional supports and services could potentially help break the intergenerational cycle of involvement with child protection services.

Editor’s Note: The solicited commentary, “Understanding the Intergenerational Cycle of ChildProtective Service Involvement,” accompanies this study.