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Exploring the Spatial Dynamics of Alcohol Outlets and Child Protective Services Referrals, Substantiations, and Foster Care Entries

Exploring the Spatial Dynamics of Alcohol Outlets and Child Protective Services Referrals, Substantiations, and Foster Care Entries

Abstract

Controlling for neighborhood demographic characteristics, this study examined the relationship of alcohol outlets with rates of Child Protective Services (CPS) referrals, substantiations, and foster care entries from 1998-2003 in 579 zip codes in California. Data for this panel study were analyzed using spatial random effects panel models. Zip codes with higher concentrations of off-premise alcohol outlets (e.g., convenience or liquor stores) and proportions of Black residents had higher rates of maltreatment. Higher average household size and median household income were generally related to lower child maltreatment rates. More specifically, the model derived estimates that an average decrease of one off-premise outlet per zip code would reduce total referrals to CPS in the 579 zip codes by 1,040 cases, substantiations by 180 cases, and foster care entries by 93 cases. Characteristics of adjacent zip codes also were related to maltreatment rates in local neighborhoods, indicating a spatial dynamic to this relationship. Reductions in number of alcohol outlets per zip code, particularly off-premise outlets, may result in lower rates of child maltreatment.
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