Caldwell, J., Delaye, A. et Esposito, T. (2021). Studying the spaces around families: Critical considerations for neighborhood research methods related to child protection involvement. Child Welfare, 99(3), 91-138.
Risk of involvement with child protection systems increasingly is understood to relate to « ecological » factors beyond families. Studies focusing on neighborhoods are one way in which researchers operationalize this understanding of child protection risk. Research demonstrates that indicators measured at the neighborhood level, particularly those related to socioeconomic disadvantage, can increase risk of involvement in child protection systems. To some extent, these factors may help explain disproportionate involvement with child protection for some marginalized groups in certain neighborhoods. However, neighborhoods are an incomplete lens of focus for understanding the varied ways that the spaces around families may shape outcomes. Through a review of critical commentary related to neighborhood-focused research, we propose considerations for child protection research to: (a) deepen theorization of the notion of the « neighborhood »; (b) recognize opportunities beyond fixed geographic spaces; (c) integrate analysis of temporal indicators; and (d) increase mixed methods in neighborhood child protection studies. We consider implications of this discussion for policy and practice and identify some limitations.