Second Generation Mothers in the Child Welfare System: Factors that Predict Engagement

Research with families involved with the child welfare system across generations has largely focused on the intergenerational transmission of maltreatment. However, their feelings about being involved with child welfare as parents are largely unknown. The current study compares risk factors among first and second generation child welfare-involved mothers across a U.S. state. A random sample of mothers (n = 336) with children younger than age five in the child welfare system were interviewed. Forty-two percent of mothers reported their own childhood history of child welfare involvement. Findings showed that second generation mothers have less education, more depression and anxiety, and higher rates of intimate partner violence (IPV). Second generation mothers rated four dimensions of engagement in child welfare services lower than first generation mothers. This decreased engagement was predicted by their mental health problems, IPV, and whether they spent time in foster care as a child. Implications for practice are discussed.

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Lisa Martine Jenkins
About Lisa Martine Jenkins 38 Articles
Lisa is the marketing coordinator for The Chronicle of Social Change and a recent graduate of University of California-Berkeley. Find her at or on Twitter @lisa_m_jenkins.