Doctor with stethoscope and infant being held by woman

Study will assess the potential for bias in health care providers’ reports of child neglect

By the time they turn 18 years old, one in three children in the United States will be involved in a child protective system (CPS) investigation. There are stark disparities by race and class in CPS involvement. The process of CPS involvement begins with reports, often by mandated reporters such as health care providers and staff. The decision to report is often subjective, particularly those reports filed for neglect, which is the most common reason health care practitioners file reports to CPS. But in many instances, it can be difficult to distinguish child neglect from poverty.

This makes the system vulnerable to racial and class biases. A new study led by University of Minnesota School of Public Health Associate Professor Susan Mason and Chelsea Weinstein, lead clinical social worker at Children’s Minnesota, will address these gaps by investigating why health care staff report instances of neglect to CPS.

Funding for the project was provided by the Child Health Collaborative Grant program, which aims to support collaborative projects that address important and unmet child health issues within communities across Minnesota. Funding has been awarded annually since 2014 as part of a broader effort to support child health research partnerships among community and U of M researchers. CTSI, Children’s Minnesota, and the U of M Department of Pediatrics teamed up to create the program.

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