Sokol RL, Victor BG, Yoon M, Ryan JP, Perron BE. Complex, Co-occurring Needs Patterns and Evidence-Based Service Planning for Families Involved in Foster Care: A Map for Research and Practice. Child Maltreat. 2023;28(2):359-371. doi:10.1177/10775595221105889.
This study described the complexity of service need co-occurrence among foster care-involved families and identified prevalent patterns of needs to inform future evidence-based service planning research. We utilized state administrative child maltreatment records, and restricted data to cases where the child entered foster care in 2019 and the caseworker indicated the presence of at least one need from the Family Assessment of Needs and Strengths (FANS; n = 1631). We extracted all unique combinations of needs (i.e., needs profiles), and we used association rule mining to identify patterns within these profiles. A total of 780 unique needs profiles emerged among the 1631 cases, which we condensed into 78 patterns. Although the variability and complexity of needs profiles makes evidence-based service planning difficult, the present analysis mapped prevalent needs patterns to guide future research intended to assist caseworkers in this task. Identification of maltreatment determinants among families involved in foster care, and future research into the needs within different needs patterns that might undermine treatment effectiveness, may result in a better balance between parsimonious service plans and a full consideration of co-occurring service needs.
Keywords: Association rule mining, child maltreatment, evidence-based service planning, foster care, machine learning.