Esposito, T., Caldwell, J., Chabot, M., Blumenthal, A., Trocme, N., Fallon, B., et al. (2023). Childhood prevalence of involvement with the child protection system in Quebec: a longitudinal study. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 20(1), 622.
The goal of this study, the first of its kind in Canada, was to estimate the child lifetime prevalence of child protection involvement in Quebec. Using administrative and population data spanning 17 years, we performed a survival analysis of initial incidents of child protection reports, confirmed reports, confirmation of a child’s security or development being compromised, and placement outside the home for one day or more. We found that before reaching the age of 18 years, over 18% of children were reported to child protection at least once, one in every ten children (10.1%) in the province had a report that led to the finding of their security or development being compromised, and over 5% were placed outside the home. We found that neglect was a primary concern in close to half (47.6%) of cases. By using a full population dataset, we obtained a more accurate prevalence estimate than studies using synthetic cohort life tables. These findings only captured initial incidents of involvement with child protection, meaning this study does not show the extent of recurrent involvement for some children. The findings reflect prior results showing that neglect is common in initial child protection involvement but less pervasive than has been shown in incidence studies, suggesting that recurrent child protection involvement is more driven by neglect than initial incidents are.