Children of Probationers in the Child Welfare System and Their Families

  • Susan D. PhillipsEmail author
  • Sonya J. Leathers
  • Alaattin Erkanli
Original Paper


This study describes changes over a 36-month period in the lives of children of probationers who were subjects of reports of maltreatment. Data on a nationally representative sample of reported victims of maltreatment were used to examine probationer-parents’ contact with the criminal justice system, and concurrent changes in their children’s households, risk exposure, and emotional and behavioral problems. Results show that 36 months after coming in contact with the child welfare system, about 40% of probationer’s children no longer lived with their probationer-parents. During the same period, children’s exposure to risk (i.e., parental substance abuse, mental illness, and domestic violence) dropped markedly; however, there was an upward trend in the prevalence of child emotional and behavioral problems. These problems ultimately declined among very young children, but persisted among elementary school age children. Further prospective studies are needed to better understand the confluence of factors affecting the outcomes of probationers’ children.


Probation Children of incarcerated parents National Survey of Child and Adolescent Well-being Child welfare 



NSCAW was conducted under contract by the Administration on Children, Youth, and Families, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (ACYF/DHHS). This particular study was supported by DHHS grant 90PH000401. The authors are solely responsible for the information and opinions expressed in this article.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Susan D. Phillips
    • 1
    Email author
  • Sonya J. Leathers
    • 1
  • Alaattin Erkanli
    • 2
  1. 1.Jane Addams College of Social WorkUniversity of Illinois at ChicagoChicagoUSA
  2. 2.Developmental EpidemiologyDuke University College of MedicineDurhamUSA

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