W. Rothwell, D., Wegner-Lohin, J., Fast, E., De Boer, K., Trocmé, N., Fallon, B., et Esposito, T. (2018). Explaining the economic disparity gap in rates of substantiated child maltreatment in Canada. Journal of Law & Social Policy, 28(1), 39-60.
Children from families living in conditions of economic hardship are at five times greater risk of substantiated harm of child abuse and neglect compared to their upper socioeconomic counterparts in the United States. This difference in risk across economic 39Rothwell et al.: Issue 1: Explaining the Economic Disparity Gap in the Rate of groups is referred to as the economic disparity gap in child maltreatment. Little is known about how the economic disparity gap functions in Canada. The purpose of this study is to understand the prevalence of economic hardship in the child welfare system and explain the economic disparity gap. We used the Canadian Incidence Study of Reported Child Abuse and Neglect, 2008 (CIS–2008) that collected worker reported data on investigations (n= 15,980) from 112 Canadian child welfare sites. In 2008, economic hardship was noted as a concern for 13% of all families investigated. The rate of maltreatment substantiation was greater for children in families with economic hardship (80%) compared to children without economic hardship (51%). The unadjusted risk ratio (RR) for substantiated maltreatment was 1.49 (reference group = children not experiencing economic hardship), CI [1.46 –1.52]; regression–adjusted RR was 1.21, CI [1.16 –1.24]. Of the 29–percentage point economic disparity gap in substantiated maltreatment, decomposition analysis showed that 69% (i.e., equivalent to 20 percentage points) was explained by differences in covariates. Caregiver risk factors such as substance use, mental health, and social/historical factors such as having been a victim of domestic violence or past placement in foster care, accounted for most of that difference. Closing the large economic disparity gap requires new interdisciplinary policies and programs.
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