A longitudinal analysis of the impact of child custody loss on drug use and crime among a sample of African American mothers

Kathi L.H. Harp, Carrie B. Oser

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations

Abstract

This study examines the influence of child custody loss on drug use and crime among a sample of African American mothers. Two types of custody loss are examined: informal custody loss (child living apart from mother but courts not involved), and official loss (child removed from mother's care by authorities). Methods Using data from 339 African American women, longitudinal random coefficient models analyzed the effects of each type of custody loss on subsequent drug use and crime. Results indicated that both informal and official custody loss predicted increased drug use, and informal loss predicted increased criminal involvement. Findings demonstrate that child custody loss has negative health implications for African American mothers, potentially reducing their likelihood of regaining or retaining custody of their children. Conclusions This study highlights the need to integrate drug treatment and other types of assistance into family case plans to improve reunification rates and outcomes among mothers, children, and families. Additionally, the finding that informal loss predicts increased drug use suggests that community-based efforts within the mother's social network could be implemented to intervene before child welfare system involvement becomes necessary.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-12
Number of pages12
JournalChild Abuse and Neglect
Volume77
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 2018

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017

Keywords

  • African American
  • Child custody loss
  • Child welfare system
  • Community
  • Crime
  • Incarceration
  • Inequality
  • Motherhood
  • Social networks
  • Substance use

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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