Rebecca Rebbe

Assistant Professor

Media Contact
Rebecca Rebbe
Phone:  213.740.8311
Rank:  Tenure Track Faculty
Department:  Children, Youth and Families

Rebecca Rebbe

Assistant Professor

Media Contact


Rebecca Rebbe is an assistant professor of social work at the University of Southern California. Rebecca’s research examines community responses to child maltreatment through systems, laws, and policies. Rebecca has training in demographic methods and specializes in using population-based linked administrative datasets. Her research is informed by 7 years of post-MSW practice working with families involved with the child welfare system, in both the public and private sectors. Rebecca earned her PhD in social welfare from the University of Washington, received a MSW from Boston College, and has a master’s degree in education from Harvard University.


University of Washington

PhD 2019

Boston College

MSW 2007

Harvard University

EdM 2006

Area of Expertise

  • child welfare practice
  • linked administrative data

Articles & Publications

What is neglect? State legal definitions in the United States | Child Maltreatment

Rebecca Rebbe
Neglect is the most common form of reported child maltreatment in the United States with 75.3% of confirmed child maltreatment victims in 2015 neglected. Despite constituting the majority of reported child maltreatment cases and victims, neglect still lacks a standard definition. In the United States, congruent with the pervasiveness of law in child welfare systems, every state and the District of Columbia has its own statutory definition of neglect. This study used content analysis to compare state legal statutory definitions with the Fourth National Incidence Survey (NIS-4) operationalization of neglect. The resulting data set was then analyzed using cluster analysis, resulting in the identification of three distinct groups of states based on how they define neglect: minimal, cornerstones, and expanded. The states’ definitions incorporate few of the NIS-4 components. Practice and policy implications of these constructions of neglect definitions are discussed.


Child protection reports and removals of infants diagnosed with prenatal substance exposure | Child Abuse & Neglect

Rebecca Rebbe, Joseph A. Mienko, Emily Brown, Ali Rowhani-Rahbar
Background A frequent response for prenatal substance exposure (PSE) is intervention by child protective services (CPS). Previous research has examined differences in reports to CPS regarding PSE by substance exposure and by maternal race. However, little is known regarding the frequency of immediate removals by CPS relating to PSE and maternal race. Methods We investigated hospital reports to CPS and CPS removals of PSE infants by using linked birth, hospital discharge, and CPS records for all children born in Washington State between 2006 and 2013 (N = 760,863). We identified PSE using diagnostic codes, calculated prevalence by substance type and maternal race, and tested for differences by interactions of race and substance using multinomial logistic regression. Results Prevalence of PSE births varied by race with 8.1% of Native American, 2.8% of black, 1.9% of white, and 0.8% of Hispanic births diagnosed with PSE. Opioids was the most common type of PSE diagnosis at 48.2%. The majority of PSE infants (86.7%) were not removed by CPS but variations by substance type were observed. Of the interactions in the multinomial logistic regression model, only black infants exposed to alcohol were more likely to result in reports to CPS without removal than the referent group of white infants exposed to opioids. Conclusions Findings indicate that most infants diagnosed with PSE were not removed by CPS and minority PSE infants were not reported to CPS or removed by CPS more than white infants. Racial differences identified in the prevalence of PSE present opportunities for targeted prevention efforts.


Hospital Variation in Child Protection Reports of Substance Exposed Infants | The Journal of Pediatrics

Rebecca Rebbe, Joseph A. Mienko, Emily Brown, Ali Rowhani-Rahbar
Objective To examine whether hospital-level factors contribute to discrepancies in reporting to Child Protective Services (CPS) of infants diagnosed with prenatal substance exposure. Study design We used a linked dataset of birth, hospital, and CPS records using diagnostic codes (International Classification of Diseases, Ninth Revision) to identify infants diagnosed with prenatal substance exposure. Using multilevel models, we examined hospital-level and individual birth-level factors in relation to a report to CPS among those infants prenatally exposed to substances. Results Of the 760 863 infants born in Washington State between 2006 and 2013, 12 308 (1.6%) were diagnosed with prenatal substance exposure. Infants born at hospitals that served larger populations of patients with Medicaid (OR, 1.25; 95% CI, 1.07-1.45) and hospitals with higher occupancy rates (OR, 1.43; 95% CI, 1.15-1.77) were more likely to be reported to CPS. Infants exposed to amphetamines (OR, 2.58; 95% CI, 2.31-2.90) and cocaine (OR, 2.33; 95% CI-1.92, 2.83) were more likely to be reported and infants exposed to cannabis (OR, 0.62; 95% CI-0.55, 0.70) were less likely to be reported to CPS than infants exposed to opioids. Infants with Native American mothers were more likely to be reported to CPS than infants with white mothers (OR, 1.47; 95% CI, 1.27-1.70). Conclusions Hospital-level and individual birth-level factors impact the likelihood of infants prenatally exposed to substances being reported to CPS, providing additional knowledge about which infants are reported to CPS. Targeted education and improved policies are necessary to ensure more standardized approaches to CPS reporting of prenatal substance exposure.


Adverse childhood experiences among youth aging out of foster care: A latent class analysis | Children & Youth Services Review

Rebecca Rebbe, Paula S. Nurius, Kym R. Ahrens, & Mark E. Courtney
Research has demonstrated that youth who age out, or emancipate, from foster care face deleterious outcomes across a variety of domains in early adulthood. This article builds on this knowledge base by investigating the role of adverse childhood experience accumulation and composition on these outcomes. A latent class analysis was performed to identify three subgroups: Complex Adversity, Environmental Adversity, and Lower Adversity. Differences are found among the classes in terms of young adult outcomes in terms of socio-economic outcomes, psychosocial problems, and criminal behaviors. The results indicate that not only does the accumulation of adversity matter, but so does the composition of the adversity. These results have implications for policymakers, the numerous service providers and systems that interact with foster youth, and for future research.