Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder and the Relationship between Early Childhood Special Education Participation and Child Welfare Involvement

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Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder and the Relationship between Early Childhood Special Education Participation and Child Welfare Involvement

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2018-12

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Numerous studies have highlighted the increased risk for child welfare involvement of children with disabilities, including those with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Despite awareness of the increased prevalence of maltreatment risk of these children, few prevention programs have been developed that specifically target children with disabilities for maltreatment prevention. However, many children with ASD and other disabilities participate in early interventions for children with disabilities, including Early Childhood Special Education (ECSE). ECSE services provide children with ASD and their families with multiple supports and services, which are aimed at improving child, parent and family functioning, reducing developmental delays, and connecting families with needed resources and services. As these services and aims mirror evidence regarding successful maltreatment prevention programs and models, there is potential for children who receive ECSE services to have less involvement with child welfare. Thus, the purpose of this study was to explore if participation in ECSE impacts child welfare involvement for children with ASD. Using merged administrative records from the Department of Education and the Social Service Information Systems data on child welfare involvement, a sample of all second and third grade children (during the 2015/2016 school year) in Minnesota with a school-designation of ASD was identified. A retrospective and longitudinal analysis of prior special education service involvement and child welfare involvement was conducted, using descriptive statistics, chi-square analysis, ANOVA, and linear and logistic regression analyses. Results show that there are demographic differences in children with ASD who receive special education services as compared to children with ASD who did not receive services. Further, there were demographic differences in children with ASD who participated in child welfare, as compared to children with ASD who did not participate in child welfare. While overall, involvement in special education services was not correlated with reduced child welfare involvement, there were some correlations among children from specific racial/ethnic and income groups. These findings have implications for social work practice, policy and research.

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University of Minnesota Ph.D. dissertation. 2018. Major: Social Work. Advisor: Elizabeth Lightfoot. 1 computer file (PDF); 225 pages.

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DeZelar, Sharyn. (2018). Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder and the Relationship between Early Childhood Special Education Participation and Child Welfare Involvement. Retrieved from the University Digital Conservancy, https://hdl.handle.net/11299/218726.

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