Max Rady College of Medicine

Concept: High Risk Children / High Risk Youths

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Concept Description

Last Updated: 2008-10-15


    Researchers at the Manitoba Centre for Health Policy (MCHP) have identified children who are at risk for poor long term outcomes. These youth are at risk of failing to graduate from high school, becoming teen parents, and relying on welfare or unemployment as young adults. This concept is a summary of the published work by MCHP on at risk kids. For more information, please see the Reference / Publication Access section below.


    High risk children were defined as those whose family experienced poverty, who grew up with teen mothers, or who had contact with the child welfare system.


    Two cohorts of children from the MCHP data repository were analyzed to identify children at risk: those born in Manitoba in 1984 or 1985 and residing in Winnipeg the year they turned 18 years of age. High risk children were identified as those whose family had experienced poverty, or who grew up with teen mothers or who had contact with Child and Family Services.

    Defining these factors:
    • Children experiencing poverty: If the child's family had received income assistance for two months or more at some point over the period when they were 10 to 17 years of age.
    • Teen mothers group: If the child's mother was a teen when her first child was born. Teen motherhood is often a marker for mothers who have minimal education and are lone parents, both of which put their children at risk for poor outcomes.
    • Child and Family Services Group: If the child had been taken into care or the family had received services from Child and Family Services (CFS) at any time over the period when the child was aged 10 to 17 years. Children are judged to require care or services from CFS for reasons such as child abuse or neglect, or if a child is judged to be beyond the control of others.


    The cohorts consisted of 11,703 children. One third of these children had one or more of three risk factors mentioned above and were defined as "high risk":
    • 14% of children lived in families that received income assistance at some point while the child was 10-17 years of age.
    • 17% of children lived in families where the mother was a teen at her first birth.
    • About 17% of children had been taken into care or received services from CFS at some point while the child was 10-17 years of age.

Reference / Publication Access

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  • Brownell M, Roos N, MacWilliam L, Leclair L, Ekuma O, Fransoo R. Academic and social outcomes for high-risk youths in Manitoba. Canadian Journal of Education 2010;33(4):804-836. [Abstract] (View)
  • Brownell M, Roos NP, MacWilliam L, Fransoo R. Equal opportunity for all? High school completion rates for high risk youths. MASS 2007;8(2):14-19. [Abstract] (View)

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Manitoba Centre for Health Policy
Community Health Sciences, Max Rady College of Medicine,
Rady Faculty of Health Sciences,
Room 408-727 McDermot Ave.
University of Manitoba
Winnipeg, MB R3E 3P5 Canada