Child Protective Services (CPS) Involvement among Children of Mothers in Foster Care


Despite the decrease in the rates of adolescent childbirth across the U.S., rates among youth with a history of foster care placements have remained high. In California, approximately one in three youth in foster care give birth at least once before the age of 21. These statistics are important given that children born to adolescent mothers are at a heightened risk for Child Protective Services (CPS) involvement. An earlier CDN analysis of children born to adolescent mothers in California found that children born to adolescent with a history of maltreatment were at significantly higher risk of being reported for abuse or neglect by age 3. This previous analysis, however, excluded all adolescent mothers who gave birth while in foster care.

The present analysis builds upon the previous work by focusing on next generation CPS involvement among the population excluded from the previous analysis: children of young mothers who were in foster care on or after the date of conception. The objective is to: (1) determine the prevalence of CPS reports and removals during a child’s first 3 years of life (2) identify characteristics and conditions that may be associated with increased risk using indicators known at birth and content from CPS case records.

Overview of Findings

We found that about half of children born to mothers in care were reported for alleged maltreatment by age 3, but that proportion has declined over time (i.e., from 63% of children born to mothers in foster care in 2009, to 46% in 2012). Variation in risk of report also emerged when dyads were grouped using a Latent Class Analysis (LCA). The data identified a number of risk factors available in the mother’s CPS and the child’s birth records that are known at the time of the child’s birth; these factors could be used to develop programs that better fit the needs of mothers in care, assess the effectiveness of these programs, and replicate policies that are improving outcomes for mothers and children.


  • FirstName LastName, PhD
  • FirstName LastName, PhD
  • FirstName LastName, PhD
Data and Research Partners
  • June 2018 – January 2019
1150 South Olive Street, Suite 1400
Los Angeles, CA 90015
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