On SAGE Insight: A Comparison of Foster Care Reentry After Adoption in Two Large U.S. States


From Research on Social Work Practice

The U.S. child welfare system has three essential goals for children who enter foster care: safety, permanence, and well-being. Among the three goals, permanence refers to the achievement of a legal, permanent family living arrangement for a child in foster care. There are multiple pathways to permanence, including reunification with the child’s family of origin, placement with relatives, adoption, or guardianship. Reunification with biological parents or other caregivers is the preferred permanency arrangement in child welfare policy and practice. However, only approximately half of foster care children typically return home (Child Welfare Information Gateway, 2011) and close to 30% of those youth end up re-entering foster care after reunification,

This study examines foster care re-entry after adoption, in Illinois and New Jersey. It used administrative data to examine the pre-adoption characteristics associated with post-adoption foster care re-entry. Children were tracked longitudinally, using administrative data, for five to fifteen years (depending on their date of adoption), or the age of majority.

The study expands prior research on outcomes for children who have been adopted through the child welfare system and adds to the literature on foster care re-entry. By including data from two large, diverse states, the study provides information that can be helpful to policy makers and practitioners when determining preventive pre- and post-adoptive services. This study found that, similar to other research, the incidence rate for re-entry into foster care after an adoption is fairly low: 95% of children did not re-enter foster care after an adoption. Children were tracked longitudinally, until the age of majority, or for a minimum of 5 years. These results should provide some confidence that those children who re-enter foster care are a small subset of all children who have been adopted.

Abstract

Purpose:

This study examines foster care reentry after adoption, in Illinois and New Jersey. The provision of services and supports to adoptive families have garnered recent attention due to concern about the long-term stability of adoptive homes.

Method:

This study used administrative data to examine the pre-adoption characteristics associated with post-adoption foster care reentry. Children were tracked longitudinally, using administrative data, for five to fifteen years (depending on their date of adoption), or the age of majority.

Results:

Results indicated that most (95%) children did not reenter foster care after adoption. Findings from survival models suggested key covariates that may help to identify children most at risk for post-adoption reentry: child race, age at adoption, number of placement moves in foster care, and time spent in foster care prior to adoption.

Conclusion:

Study findings may help identify families most at-risk for post-adoption difficulties in order to develop preventative adoption service.

Read the article in full here

Article details
A Comparison of Foster Care Reentry After Adoption in Two Large U.S. States
Nancy Rolock , Kevin R. White , Kerrie Ocasio, Lixia Zhang , Michael J. MacKenzie , and Rowena Fong
First Published July 4, 2018 Research Article
DOI: 10.1177/1049731518783857#Research on Social Work Practice
From Research on Social Work Practice


     
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