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Characteristics of Children at Greater Risk of Poor Outcomes as Adults

2.3  Defining the priority population

The previous study (AP 15/01) found that children with the following characteristics were much more likely to experience poor longer-term outcomes[8] compared to other children:

  • having been notified to Child, Youth and Family
  • having spent more than three-quarters of their lifetime supported by welfare benefits (ie, their parents or caregivers received benefits)
  • having a parent with a corrections history (including both community and custodial sentences), where parents and caregivers were identified through the benefit data only.

Consultation with key social agencies led to the addition of a new criterion (having a mother with no formal qualifications) and to a narrowing of the child protection contact measure to children who had a substantiated finding of abuse or neglect or had been placed in care.

Children aged 0 to 5 years who had two or more of the four characteristics were defined to be the priority population:

  • the child has a substantiated finding of abuse or neglect, or has been placed in the care of Child, Youth and Family[9]
  • the child has been supported by benefits more than three-quarters of the lifetime, or if aged 0 they were supported by benefit at birth
  • either parent has a corrections history (including both community and custodial sentences)
  • mother has no formal qualifications.

Information on parent-child relationship used in the third and fourth criteria is based on birth registration data. In the previous study parents and caregivers were identified through the benefit data. The change to using parents identified on the birth register meant that a much higher proportion of children who had a parent with a corrections history were identified.

Information on mother's qualifications is based on information collected by MSD about those who receive benefits, as well as information from the Ministry of Education about qualifications completed since 2003. Information on educational attainment collected by MSD is incomplete with around 25% of mothers with a benefit history have missing values for educational attainment. Even where the field is populated it is not necessarily updated, particularly for those receiving Sole Parent Support. Hence the “no formal qualification” measure only identifies mothers who received benefits at some stage since becoming an adult, are recorded as having no formal qualifications, and have not completed any qualifications after 2002.

Regression analysis was used to examine the strength of the relationship between various characteristics (including the four indictors) and selected outcomes at age 21, including school attainment, welfare receipt, and contact with correction (ie, having received a community or custodial sentence). A summary of this analysis is included in Appendix 1.

This regression analysis showed that being notified to CYF (ie, the broader CYF contact measure), the proportion of time supported by welfare benefits, having a parent with a corrections history, ethnicity, and gender were the characteristics most strongly associated with poor outcomes. Having a “mother having no formal qualifications” was also associated with poor outcomes, but less so than the other factors. This result likely reflects the partial nature of the qualification measure that can be derived from the information available in IDI. The analysis of international longitudinal survey data shows that mother's educational attainment is correlated with children's outcomes.

This regression analysis showed that being notified to CYF (ie, the broader CYF contact measure) was more strongly associated with poor outcomes than the narrower CYF contact measure based on having a substantiated finding of abuse or neglect or a period in care. For children aged 0-14 years the proportion of children known to CYF was around twice the proportion that had a substantiated finding or had spent time in care (8% compared to 17%). The broader CYF contact measure leads to leads to around 17.2% of children aged 0-14 having two or more of the four indicators, compared to 13.9% based on the narrower measure.

Notes

  • [8]Poor educational attainment, long-term benefit receipt, received a community or custodial sentence.
  • [9]Or if aged 2 years or under they have a sibling who had a substantiated finding, or if aged 0 they had a sibling who had been notified to CYF.
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