Panel Paper: Early Exposure to Child Maltreatment and Educational Outcomes

Saturday, November 10, 2018
Jefferson - Mezz Level (Marriott Wardman Park)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Joseph P. Ryan, Brian A. Jacob, Max Gross, Brian E. Perron, Andrew Moore and Sharlyn Ferguson, University of Michigan

This study sought to investigate the prevalence of early contact with child protection services (CPS) and to determine whether early exposure to maltreatment investigations was associated with important educational outcomes. We focused specifically on standardized test scores (math and reading), grade retention and special education status. The sample was diverse and included all children born between 2000 and 2006 and enrolled in public school (n=732,838). Approximately 18% of third grade students were associated with a formal investigation. In some school districts, more than 50% of third graders were associated with an investigation. African American and poor students were more likely to be investigated for maltreatment. Children associated with maltreatment investigations scored significantly lower on standardized math and reading tests, were more likely to be identified as needing special education and were more likely to be held back at least one grade. These findings indicate that involvement with CPS is not an infrequent event in the lives of young children and that within some school districts, maltreatment investigations are the norm. Moreover, contact with CPS is associated with early educational difficulties. Child welfare and educational systems must collaborate, so that the early academic struggles experienced by victims of maltreatment do not mature into more complicated difficulties to be encountered later in life.