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Preventable Injury Deaths: A Population-Based Proxy of Child Maltreatment Risk Emily Putnam-Hornstein, PhD Center for Social Services Research University.

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Presentation on theme: "Preventable Injury Deaths: A Population-Based Proxy of Child Maltreatment Risk Emily Putnam-Hornstein, PhD Center for Social Services Research University."— Presentation transcript:

1 Preventable Injury Deaths: A Population-Based Proxy of Child Maltreatment Risk Emily Putnam-Hornstein, PhD Center for Social Services Research University of California, Berkeley

2 background Maltreated children not known to child protective services Maltreated children known to child protective services

3 motivation CPS: a racially biased sample of maltreated children? a population-based metric of child maltreatment risk / child welfare service needs implications for how and where we intervene to reduce racial disparities…as well as what our short-term expectations should be

4 this study uses data from two public surveillance systems as a means of assessing bias in one source (CPS data), using the more complete data found in the other (vital injury death records) exploits variations in injury fatality rates as a means of quantifying bias in the racial distribution of maltreatment victims identified by CPS hypothesized that racial variability in excess injury death would be observed, but absent widespread bias on the part of CPS, consistent counts of substantiations for each excess death

5 child injury deaths A mortality-based standard for evaluating parental behavior may be the closest we can get to “culture- free” definitions of neglect and abuse. (S.R. Johannson, 1987)

6 why all injury fatalities? maltreatment-related, inflicted injuries are severely undercounted in death records – cannot capture racial bias in one data source, using another source potentially corrupted by the same bias unintentional and intentional child injury fatalities are falsely dichotomized – the outcome is the same – unintentional injury fatalities are largely preventable, occur in the home, frequently reflect inadequate caregiving and supervision (i.e., neglect), accompanied by the same risk factors as intentional injury deaths

7 data injury mortality rates maltreatment rates population estimates death statistical master files substantiation records bridged-race postcensal est. year, age, race/ethnicity, manner/mechanism of death year, age, race/ethnicity, maltreatment substantiations year, age, race/ethnicity

8 maltreatment rates (per 1,000) & injury death rates (per 100,000) 21.6 per 1, per 100, per 1, per 100, per 1, per 100, per 1, per 100,000

9 excess injury deaths rates of excess (or preventable) injury mortality were derived based on the difference between each racial group’s rate of injury death and that of an achievable baseline semi-arbitrary achievable death rate excess deaths ?? Since, by its very definition, the “achievable death rate” is the upper bound estimate of some unknown fraction of injury deaths that were actually unavoidable…two other baselines were also considered.

10 excess injury deaths

11 substantiations per excess death it was posited that in the absence of widespread substantiation bias on the part of CPS, consistent numbers of substantiated cases for each excess death would be observed across racial groups differences in the number of substantiations per excess death were treated as an indication that CPS had substantiated a racially biased sample of the full population of children at risk of maltreatment / in need of child welfare services definition : the number of substantiated cases of maltreatment for every injury death in excess of a specified baseline rate

12 substantiations per excess death

13 summary established an “achievable” baseline rate of injury death – computed rates of excess death – alternative baselines set at 50% and 75% of this rate computed the corresponding number of substantiated allegations of maltreatment associated with each excess death

14 findings findings from this population-level analysis align with other recent research suggesting that racial disparities in rates of substantiated maltreatment arise from real group-level differences in risk per excess death, Black and Native American children had rates of substantiated maltreatment that were equivalent to or lower than White children

15 qualifications and limitations ecological analysis – racial bias unlikely to operate on such a large scale as to explain observed disparities method for determining how many injury deaths are preventable – relied on a rate of death that was achieved, findings held under alternative specifications baseline rates of random deaths may differ due to non-parental risk factors – excluded transportation-related deaths, findings held variation in the timeliness and/or quality of medical interventions to prevent death – research suggests most injury fatality victims are declared dead prior to arrival at ER/hospital

16 conclusions? to date, efforts to reduce racial disparities have been oriented around an understanding that the overrepresentation of Black and Native American children among victims of maltreatment originated from CPS system and worker bias efforts to reduce racial disparities will continue to fall short if intervention strategies ignore the social and economic factors that place some children at far greater risk of abuse and neglect than others

17 Thank you to my colleagues at the Center for Social Services Research and the California Department of Social Services Support for this and other child maltreatment/mortality research was provided by the HF Guggenheim Foundation. Ongoing support for research arising from the California Performance Indicators Project is generously provided by the California Department of Social Services and the Stuart Foundation.


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