Our proposed research has three aims. We will first generate latent classes of maltreatment and Child Protective Services (CPS) contact based on the type(s) of maltreatment, age of onset of maltreatment, duration of maltreatment, frequency of maltreatment, and level of contact with CPS, including having an investigation and being placed in foster care. Subsequently, we will estimate differences in the prevalence of each of these classes by race/ethnicity, parental socioeconomic status, and other key background and demographic characteristics. This will allow us to identify patterned co-occurrences of different experiences of maltreatment (as opposed to simply prevalence and incidence rates) alongside system contact. This first part is descriptive; it extends a literature that has primarily focused on the prevalence and incidence rates of maltreatment and CPS contact but has paid scant attention to patterned experiences of children belonging to different racial and socioeconomic groups.
Aims 2 and 3 seek to improve our understanding of how maltreatment and CPS contact shape life course trajectories. Building on the pattern detection in Aim 1, we will follow different latent classes of children through the life-course to better understand the effects of early-life circumstance on mid-life outcomes. Specifically, Aim 2 focuses on analyses of the effects of maltreatment and CPS contact on delinquency, risky health behaviors, criminal activity, and criminal justice system contact in the transition to adulthood. Aim 3 focuses on analyses of the effects of maltreatment and CPS contact on long-term outcomes, such as family structure and health and wellbeing at early mid-life.