Chronic conditions among children investigated by child welfare: A national sample

Ruth E.K. Stein, Michael S. Hurlburt, Amy M. Heneghan, Jinjin Zhang, Jennifer Rolls-Reutz, Ellen J. Silver, Emily Fisher, John Landsverk, Sarah Mc Cue Horwitz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

52 Scopus citations


OBJECTIVE: To assess the presence of chronic health conditions (CHCs) among a nationally representative sample of children investigated by child welfare agencies. METHODS: The study included 5872 children, aged 0 to 17.5 years, whose families were investigated for maltreatment between February 2008 and April 2009. Using data from the second National Survey of Child and Adolescent Well-Being, we examined the proportion of children who had CHC. We developed 2 categorical and 2 noncategorical measures of CHC from the available data and analyzed them by using bivariate and multivariable analyses. RESULTS: Depending on the measure used, 30.6% to 49.0% of all children investigated were reported by their caregivers to have a CHC. Furthermore, the children identified by using diverse methods were not entirely overlapping. In the multivariable analyses, children with poorer health were more likely to be male, older, and receiving special educational services but not more likely to be in out-of-home placements. CONCLUSIONS: The finding that a much higher proportion of these children have CHC than in the general population underscores the substantial health problems of children investigated by child welfare agencies and the need to monitor their health carefully, regardless of their placement postinvestigation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)455-462
Number of pages8
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2013


  • Child welfare investigation
  • Chronic conditions
  • Disparities
  • Foster care
  • Health status
  • Mental health
  • National survey of child and adolescent well-being

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health


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