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Predictors of foster care exits to permanency: A competing risks analysis of reunification, guardianship, and adoption

Becci A. Akin

Children and Youth Services Review, 2011, vol. 33, issue 6, 999-1011

Abstract: Although foster care is intended to be temporary, and policy explicitly requires permanency outcomes, many children experience lengthy stays and exit foster care without a permanent family. This study sought to identify which child and placement characteristics were important predictors of exit to three types of permanency outcomes: reunification, guardianship, and adoption. A sample of 3351 children who entered foster care in 2006 was observed for 30 to 42Â months. Permanency outcomes were analyzed using competing risks survival analysis. Children exited foster care to different types of permanency at different rates and frequencies. Reunification occurred most quickly and frequently. Guardianship was second in terms of median duration but third in frequency. Adoption was the second most common exit but had the longest median duration. One in four children remained in foster care or exited without permanency. While patterns varied by type of permanency, three major categories of important predictors were identified: 1) demographic characteristics of age at entry and race, 2) clinical needs related to children's disabilities and mental health problems, and 3) continuity and connections represented by kin placements, sibling placements, early stability, and absence of runaway events. Implications for practice, policy, and research are discussed.

Keywords: Child; welfare; Foster; care; Permanency; Reunification; Guardianship; Adoption (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2011
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