Developmental Status and Early Intervention Service Needs of Maltreated Children: Research Brief. Developmental Outcomes


Study findings support reason to be concerned about the developmental status of maltreated children regardless of substantiation status. Likewise, problems in the caregiving relationship with the potential to affect developmental outcomes are also indicated in the increased rate of behavioral problems reported by caregivers of young maltreated children.

  1. Among children who have substantiated maltreatment, the proportion with a low score on a developmental measure does not differ markedly from those of children investigated but not found to have substantiated maltreatment.  Children with substantiated maltreatment have been found to be quite similar to those children with unsubstantiated maltreatment (Drake, 1995), but different in that unsubstantiated cases receive fewer services (Drake et al., 2003). This has recently been reconfirmed in the NSCAW data (NSCAW Research Group, 2002), for the general population of children and, now, again for very young children in this study. The current study adds important information in showing that developmental outcomes do not differ by substantiation status. This evidence suggests that children involved in child welfare — even those who have not had their maltreatment substantiated-have an increased likelihood of being Part C eligible.
  2. Despite their young age, maltreated children between 24 to 36 months of age have relatively high levels of behavior problems reported by their caregivers.  These behavior problems are quite constant. About 70% of children who were reported by caregivers as having behavior problems at baseline were still having behavior problems at the 36-month follow-up. It is not clear whether maltreating caregivers experience their children's age-expected behavior as more problematic or whether the children have, in fact, more problematic behavior. Recent evidence that compares the ratings of maltreating parents to those of independent observers suggests that maltreating parents are more harsh raters of their children's behavior (Lau, Valeri, McCarty, & Weisz, 2006).

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