Model pools data from across departments to forecast most at-risk children — but some experts are cautious.
A mathematical model designed to predict children at risk of abuse will be trialled with data about children reported to Child, Youth and Family.
The model predicts which children will suffer substantiated child abuse or neglect based on 132 factors drawn from cross-departmental records, including the parents' ages, their criminal records, their own history of being abused as children, and recorded family violence.
Initial testing by the Social Development Ministry, looking at the 5 per cent of children born in 2007 who would have been rated at highest risk in the model, found that 31 per cent suffered substantiated maltreatment by age 5. That figure was projected to rise to 40 per cent by age 10, but still meant 60 per cent would have been targeted unnecessarily ("false positives").