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Trajectories of Child Protective Services Contact among Alaska Native/American Indian and Non-Native Children


Austin, Anna E.; Gottfredson, Nisha C.; Zolotor, Adam J.; Halpern, Carolyn Tucker; Marshall, Stephen W.; Naumann, Rebecca B.; & Shanahan, Meghan E. (2019). Trajectories of Child Protective Services Contact among Alaska Native/American Indian and Non-Native Children. Child Abuse & Neglect, 95, 104044. PMCID: PMC6667300


Background: Contact with child protective services (CPS) functions as an independent marker of child vulnerability. Alaska children are an important population for understanding patterns of CPS contact given high rates of contact overall and among specific demographic groups.
Objective: We aimed to identify longitudinal trajectory classes of CPS contact among Alaska Native/American Indian (AN/AI) and non-Native children and examine preconception and prenatal risk factors associated with identified classes.
Participants and setting: We used data from the Alaska Longitudinal Child Abuse and Neglect Linkage (ALCANLink) project, a linkage of 2009–2011 Alaska Pregnancy Risk Assessment Monitoring System (PRAMS) births with administrative data including CPS records.
Methods: We conducted growth mixture modeling to identify trajectory classes of CPS contact from birth to age five years. We used Vermunt’s three-step approach to examine associations with preconception and prenatal risk factors.
Results: Among AN/AI children, we identified three classes: 1) no/low CPS contact (75.4%); 2) continuous CPS contact (19.6%), and 3) early, decreasing CPS contact (5.0%). Among non-Native children, we identified four classes: 1) no CPS contact (81.3%); 2) low, increasing CPS contact (9.5%); 3) early, rapid decline CPS contact (5.8%); and 4) high, decreasing CPS contact (3.3%). Maternal substance use had the largest impact on probabilities of class membership, increasing the probability of membership in classes characterized by CPS contact, among both AN/AI and non-Native children.
Conclusions: Results reveal heterogeneity in longitudinal patterns CPS contact across early childhood among Alaska children and identify maternal substance use as an important target for primary prevention.


Reference Type

Journal Article

Year Published


Journal Title

Child Abuse & Neglect


Austin, Anna E.
Gottfredson, Nisha C.
Zolotor, Adam J.
Halpern, Carolyn Tucker
Marshall, Stephen W.
Naumann, Rebecca B.
Shanahan, Meghan E.