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Rick Barth Published in Research on Social Work Practice

Rick Barth and Colleagues Published in Research on Social Work Practice on Research Methods for Child Welfare Analysis

Rick Barth continues research to understand disproportionality in child welfare services and, especially, what the relationship is between poverty, race, child maltreatment, and child welfare involvement. This is a broader look at the shortcomings in the Briggs paper, also published in RSWP.


The National Child Abuse and Neglect Data System (NCANDS) Child File ostensibly includes variables representing economic distress. At the national level, these variables are demonstrably implausible, substantially underestimating economic distress. We reviewed 19 articles that have used these variables within the past 10 years. Most states provide implausible estimates. Economic measures can be incorporated into NCANDS data by either subsetting to states with plausible estimates of these variables in given years, or appending county-level economic Census data. Without addressing these variables’ issues in plausibility, use of them will yield biased estimates and are uninterpretable.


Jones, D., Drake, B., Kim, H., Chen, J.-H., Font, S., Putnam-Hornstein, E., Barth, R. P., Huang, T.-H., & Jonson-Reid, M. (2023). Poverty Indicators in the National Child Abuse and Neglect Data System Child File: Challenges and Opportunities. Research on Social Work Practice, 10497315231179658. https://doi.org/10.1177/10497315231179658

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