Mothers in the community: Intellectual functioning and child welfare involvement

Publication Year
2023

Type

Article
Abstract

Parents with intellectual disabilities are over-represented in child welfare settings; however, there is little research about how these parents fare in their communities, and what factors may predispose them to child welfare involvement. This study was organized around four research questions to better understand how parents with low intellectual functioning encounter child welfare systems: 1) What percentage of mothers of young children have low intellectual functioning? 2) How common is child welfare involvement for mothers with low intellectual functioning when their children are young? 3) What characteristics predict child welfare involvement for mothers with low intellectual functioning when their children are young? and 4) How does low maternal intellectual functioning predict child welfare involvement during early childhood when controlling for poverty? Data were analyzed from 2,268 mothers who were primary caregivers and participated in the Future of Families Child and Wellbeing Study. Findings indicate that 1.4% of mothers had low intellectual functioning, and these mothers were more than twice as likely to have child welfare involvement by the time their children were 5. All mothers with low intellectual functioning who had child welfare involvement identified as Black, non-Hispanic. Extreme poverty was ubiquitous in this group. It was found that poverty fully mediated the relationship between low maternal intellectual functioning and child welfare involvement. Results suggest the need to identify targeted supports that are responsive to the unique needs of mothers with low intellectual functioning in order to avoid child welfare involvement in the first place.

Publication Status
In Press
Journal
Journal of Family Trauma, Child Custody & Child Development