The Impact of State Early Childhood Programs and Child Protective Services Policies on Resilience Following Experiences of Child Maltreatment

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Dodge, Kenneth A

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In the largest known investigation to date of the prevalence of resilience following experiences of child maltreatment, a statewide, longitudinal sample of maltreated children was used to measure the prevalence of resilience, defined in this study as consistent competence over time and across multiple domains of functioning within the academic setting. In response to the relative paucity of resilience research using large samples, multiple domains of functioning, and longitudinal data, the current study measured resilience in a sample of over 150,000 children who were reported to child protective services agencies for suspected maltreatment. Functioning was measured within three distinct domains (academic performance, special education, and behavioral functioning) across a time period of up to 7 years. A sample of over 450,000 children with no known maltreatment history was used to compare relative rates of consistent competence over time and examine any differential effects on competence across groups. Approximately 18% of maltreated children exhibited consistently competent functioning in all domains across all available years of data, whereas approximately 35% of nonmaltreated children demonstrated consistent competence. County-level introduction of differential response policies investigating children's reported maltreatment was found to promote higher rates of competent functioning. In addition, relative levels of government expenditures in children's counties on two popular statewide early childhood programs (Smart Start and More At Four) were found to predict competent functioning for maltreated and nonmaltreated children alike. These findings suggest that child welfare policies aimed at identifying and assisting high-risk families in need of services and support and community programs targeted at improving children's early development and school readiness hold promise for improving adaptive functioning among maltreated children at high risk for experiencing difficulties in the school environment.





McCourt, Sandra (2013). The Impact of State Early Childhood Programs and Child Protective Services Policies on Resilience Following Experiences of Child Maltreatment. Dissertation, Duke University. Retrieved from


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