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The Patterns of In-Home Service Use and Their Relationships with Child Out-of-Home Care
Child and Adolescent Social Work Journal  (IF1.862),  Pub Date : 2021-08-20, DOI: 10.1007/s10560-021-00787-4
Wu, Qi, Nwabuzor Ogbonnaya, Ijeoma, Yan, Yueqi

The passage of 2018 Family First Prevention Services Act reflects a shift in child welfare policy, prioritizing in-home services in the hope of preventing children from entering out-of-home care. This study aims to examine service use patterns among families and children involved with child welfare system, and to investigate associations between class membership of service use and the subsequent out-of-home care. Data were from Waves 1 (baseline) and 2 (18 months follow-up) of the second cohort of the National Survey of Child and Adolescent Well Being. This study included measures on the following service types at Wave 1: (a) employment assistance, (b) adult mental health, (c) child mental health, (d) family mental health, (e) caregiver substance abuse treatment, (f) domestic violence, (g) legal assistance, (h) housing assistance, and (i) parenting support. A latent class analysis with the BCH Method and regression auxiliary model was used to examine the research questions. Findings showed the following four classes of service use: (1) housing services, (2) family-focused services, (3) parent-focused services, and (4) no services. When services were only focused on parents, particularly mental health and parenting services, children were more at risk of out-of-home care than when there were no services received. However, there was no difference in out-of-home care risk comparing the family-focused service group and the no service group. Mental health services for parents may be more effective in reducing risk of out-of-home care if combined with mental health services for children and families.