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Research Letter
June 15, 2020

Cumulative Incidence of Child Protection Services Involvement Before Age 5 Years in 153 670 Australian Children

Author Affiliations
  • 1School of Public Health and Community Medicine, University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia
  • 2Centre for Big Data Research in Health, University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia
  • 3National Centre for Epidemiology and Population Health, Australian National University, Canberra, Australia
  • 4ANU Centre for Social Research Methods, Australian National University, Canberra, Australia
  • 5School of Public Health, University of Adelaide, Adelaide, Australia
  • 6Robinson Research Institute, University of Adelaide, Adelaide, Australia
  • 7Melbourne School of Population and Global Health, University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Australia
  • 8Department of Communities and Justice, New South Wales Government, Sydney, Australia
  • 9Population Heath Sciences, Bristol Medical School, University of Bristol, Bristol, United Kingdom
JAMA Pediatr. Published online June 15, 2020. doi:10.1001/jamapediatrics.2020.1151

Child maltreatment has immediate and lifelong consequences for health and well-being and is costly for governments.1 Historically, reporting of child protection services (CPS) contacts has offered a system view of child protection based on point incidence. Because CPS data have become increasingly available for research, the scale of the child maltreatment problem across the life span has begun to emerge. In the US, maltreatment is investigated in 37% of children,2 confirmed in 13% of children,3 and results in the placement of 6% of children in out-of-home care (OOHC) at least once by the time the child is 18 years of age. In New Zealand, 24% of children born in 1998 had 1 or more CPS notifications, 10% had experienced substantiated maltreatment, and 3% had 1 or more OOHC placements by 17 years of age.4 More than one-third of New Zealand children reported to CPS by adulthood were first reported by age 5 years.4 This study used cross-sectoral data linkage to quantify the cumulative incidence of CPS involvement before 5 years of age among children in their first year of school in New South Wales, Australia.

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