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Patterns of family service needs and caregiver–child relationships among families at risk of child welfare involvement


Child & Family Social Work

Published online on


Caregivers at risk of involvement in the child welfare system report high levels of need for multiple types of services, and their children have high levels of mental health need. Caregivers from families with more service needs, as well as unmet needs, are less likely to be engaged with child welfare services and may have diminished capacity to care for their child. This study takes a family‐centered approach by using latent class analysis to identify patterns of both caregiver and child service needs among families at risk of child welfare involvement. Using data from the LONGSCAN consortium (N = 957), we identified 4 classes of service needs among child welfare‐involved families. We then examined differences between the 4 classes based on demographics, maltreatment histories, unmet service needs, and caregiver–child relationship. The caregivers were split fairly evenly among the 4 classes: low needs, medical needs, poverty support, and high needs. There were significant differences between classes on assessed variables, with higher levels of needs associated with diminished caregiver–child relationships.