Intergenerational families in child welfare: Assessing needs and estimating permanency

Jane Marie Marshall, Hui Huang, Joseph P. Ryan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


Much of the empirical literature on intergenerational child maltreatment focuses on the mechanisms that explain how maltreatment is transmitted across generations. Few studies have examined child protective service outcomes associated with intergenerational families. The current study addresses this gap in the literature. This study compares 1196 caregivers, most of whom are single African American females, and 2143 children from first and second generation child welfare-involved families. All families have a history of substance abuse. We sought to understand how first and second generation families differ with regard to social and economic status indicators, as well as whether intergenerational child welfare involvement is associated with permanency outcomes. Our findings indicate that second generation families experience significantly more risk factors at the time of case opening, and are two-thirds as likely to be reunified as compared with first generation families. The singular effects of generation status disappeared, however, once the interaction between mental health diagnosis and second generation status was entered into the model, suggesting that it is not just being intergenerationally involved in the child welfare system that reduces the chance of reunification, but rather second generation caregivers have more mental health problems that are associated with a lower likelihood of reunification.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1024-1030
Number of pages7
JournalChildren and Youth Services Review
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2011


  • Foster care
  • Intergenerational maltreatment
  • Permanency


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