What Works in Foster Care?: Key Components of Success From the Northwest Foster Care Alumni Study

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  1. What works in foster care? : key components of success from the Northwest Foster Care Alumni Study
  2. What Works in Foster Care?: Key Components of Success From the Northwest Foster Care Alumni Study
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Study Sample and Alumni Demographics 4. Mental and Physical Health 7. Education 8. Employment and Finances 9. Relationships and Social Supports Relation between Agency Membership and Outcomes Relation between Foster Care Experience and Outcomes View PDF. This organization was tasked with preventing child abuse and neglect, protecting children who had been maltreated, and, when possible, rehabilitating families in which children had been maltreated. At least three separate legislative statements expressed basic policy concerning the mission of SOSCF.

Oregon became known for conducting multiple family decision meetings with families. During the early s and into the middle of the decade, SOSCF in Multnomah County expanded the role and accessibility of child welfare services to the community. Child abuse calls and mandatory reporter laws still required a formal process, but the liaisons provided a sounding board and troubleshooter for the schools.

Teams consisting of a caseworker, a drug counselor, and a community health nurse were established in order to provide a comprehensive approach to the issues involved in families struggling with drug dependency. Toward the end of the study period, SOSCF entered into a settlement agreement with a group of child advocates to address a series of common concerns in the child welfare protective services and foster care systems. Approximately half of the children and families served received in-home services and half were served in substitute care. Youth requiring long-term foster care, the population for this study, represented one group of the youth served in substitute care.

The number of children in foster care grew during this period from 4, on December 31, , to an average daily population of 6, in December One-third of the children in foster care were between the ages of 0 and 5 years, one-third were between 6 and 12 years, and onethird were over 12 years.

Lastly, in , the median length of stay for children in out-of-home care was 49 days the mean was days. By , the median length of stay had risen to days the mean was days. The average caseload for workers was moderate averaging 25 youth per worker ; foster parent retention was moderate; and there was high availability of mental health, education, and other services available to the youth in care. Note that the staff turnover rate for this time period was not available.

These programs are responsible for the investigation of child abuse and neglect complaints, child protection, family preservation, family reconciliation, in-home services, foster care, group care, adoption services, and independent living services for children ages 0 to 18 years. A focus on placement decision making included expansion of Child Protection Teams to review decision making related to placement, developing tools to assess relatives as a placement resource, and regulating evaluation of local placement practices Washington State Department of Social and Health Services, , The primary goal of the service delivery system was to reduce placement rates overall while ensuring that children remained safe from serious maltreatment during and subsequent to involvement with child welfare services Washington State Department of Social and Health Services, , b.

Principles of practice included work to increase the number of foster care and adoptive homes available to children in need of placement and to create permanent homes while simultaneously reducing the number of children in care. Also, procedures for licensing nontraditional foster and adoptive parents were developed. Case practice was based on goal-oriented permanency planning and a family-centered practice model.

A permanency plan had to be completed for a child in out-of-home care by his or her 18th month in placement or by the 12th month if the child was 10 years old or younger. Acceptable permanency plans included maintaining a child in or returning a child to the home of a parent; relative guardianship; relative placement with a written permanency agreement; adoption or foster parent guardianship; family foster care with a written permanency agreement; and independent living if appropriate and if the child was 16 years of age or older. Placement with relatives was the preferred type of out-of-home care.

Foster adoption was another type of placement that was intended for children who were unlikely to return home.

Hailey's Story - Aging Out Of Foster Care - Legacy Housing

Children were placed with an adoptive family who was licensed to provide foster care and who had had an approved adoptive home study. The intent of this type of placement was to reduce the number of moves a child had to make and to increase stability Washington State Department of Social and Health Services, a. An ILP assessment was completed for all children who were in placement after their 16th birthday. Youth were assessed on their ability to attain educational goals, manage income, attain vocational goals, secure adequate housing, and develop daily living skills and interpersonal skills.

Independent living skills services were then provided to eligible youth. These workers spent an average of 4. During this time period, improved procedures for recruiting and assessing foster families were developed. Foster families were assessed and relicensed every three years and every time they changed their residence. Foster parents were eligible to receive ancillary support services that included recreational activities, 26 Introduction a clothing allowance, and transportation reimbursements, as well as social supports including peer support from other foster parents.

Characteristics of the Washington State Foster Care Population The number of Washington children in out-of-home care increased from over 7, at the beginning of to nearly 8, by Of these children, 5, were in foster homes or relative care in Washington State Department of Social and Health Services, , and 7, were in this type of care in In , the median length of stay for children in out-ofhome care was 12 months Washington State Department of Social and Health Services, In sum and as displayed in Table 1. For example, state agencies provided short-term as well as longer-term foster care.

All children were served in state agency programs, including children with disabilities and unaccompanied minors. Casey did not serve children with mental, emotional, or physical disabilities so severe that they could not be expected to live independently in the community upon reaching adulthood. A much higher proportion of Casey social workers had obtained MSW degrees than had workers in the public agencies.

All agencies had a case-planning process; however, Casey had implemented a more comprehensive child assessment and planning approach involving cultural, emotional, and independent living skills earlier in the study period. Children and foster parents were seen by caseworkers less frequently in Washington than in Oregon or by Casey. Worker turnover was higher in Washington and Oregon compared to Casey. Foster parent turnover was lower in Casey compared to the two state agencies. Foster parent satisfaction was higher in Casey compared to the state agencies.

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Casey provided more supplemental services and supports to foster parents, such as recognition and training, and child enrichment activities, such as music lessons and summer camps. Summary At any one point during the year, nearly , children are in foster care in the United States. Of the youth exiting care each year, one-half have been in care for a year or longer. The needs of these youth are slightly different from those of youth with shorter stays. In addition to the immediate concerns of child safety, child permanence, and child and family well-being for all youth entering care, youth experiencing longer durations of care have additional short- and long-term outcomes with which agencies providing care must be concerned, including emotional, physical, and cognitive development.

Unfortunately, the relative lack of research and the methodological limitations of existing research have hampered conclusions concerning 28 Introduction long-term outcomes and the effectiveness of care that foster youth received.


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  • What Works in Foster Care?: Key Components of Success From the Northwest Foster Care Alumni Study.

The Northwest Alumni Study was designed to address the lack of objective data about adolescents who were placed in foster care for longer time periods in the Northwest. By examining extensive information collected through case records and interviews, the Northwest Alumni Study sought to understand how youth formerly in foster care were faring as adults and what experiences in care related to long-term success.

The study also sought to discover if there were agency differences in service delivery quality, process, and outcomes— and what factors might account for those differences. As such, this is an example of what Donald Campbell called a local molar causal validity study Campbell, Although this study took place in only two states, these states are similar to many other states in terms of family demographics and service delivery structures.

Organization of the Book This chapter sets the stage for the current state of foster care and why a study such as this was necessary. A list of conceptual units and a description of all chapters are provided below. Introduction to the Northwest Alumni Study a. Chapter 1 this chapter describes the current state of foster care in terms of how many youth are served, how much society invests in them, the lack of conclusive data on their long-term functioning, and the program models for the programs in which young adults were served.

Chapter 2 describes how past research informed the choice of a conceptual and theoretical framework for the Northwest Alumni Study, including the main research questions and hypotheses of the study. Study Methodology a. Chapter 3 presents the sample characteristics and response rates of the three foster care agencies that participated in the study. Chapter 4 summarizes the data sources, variables, and measures, as well as the data collection procedures and data weighting methods. Risk Factors a. Chapter 5 details factors that put alumni at risk during childhood, including demographics and maltreatment.

Foster care experiences are presented in Appendix C. A separate Working Paper No. Study Background, Rationale, and Participating Agencies 29 4. Outcome Findings Alumni prevalence rates and comparison benchmarks are presented in Chapters 6—9 for the following outcome domains: a. Chapter 6: mental health and physical health b. Chapter 7: education c.

Chapter 9: relationships and social supports 5. Relationships With Outcomes The relationship between each area listed below, and alumni outcomes are detailed in Working Paper No.

What works in foster care? : key components of success from the Northwest Foster Care Alumni Study

Chapter agency program model c. Chapter the effects of foster care experiences are summarized in Working Paper No. Optimization Analyses a. Chapter 12 presents results from statistical simulations examining the possible effects on outcomes had a higher-quality foster care experience been provided. Discussion and Implications a. Anne Havalchak contributed to this chapter. I was with one family from 7th grade to when I graduated from high school. That was where I went during summers when I came home from college.

When I tell people about my family, I include them. They had three daughters and a brother and I associate with them just as much as I do with my biological family. For one thing, I had a kid when I was very young. I feel that if I had been allowed to do normal teenage things, my life would have been different. Overview The Northwest Alumni Study examined the intermediate and long-term outcomes for children placed in foster care. Data from case records and interviews were collected to examine the relationship between foster care experiences and adult outcomes e.

Further, additional information concerning demographics and risk factors was collected and examined. In addition to the agency through which alumni were served Casey or the state agencies in Washington or Oregon , demographics and risk factors were controlled.

Eligible participants had to 1 have spent 12 months or more in family foster care between the ages of 14 and 18 years; 2 have been placed by the state agency or Casey in Seattle, Tacoma, or Yakima, Washington or Portland, Oregon, between January 1, , and September 30, ; 3 have been placed because of child maltreatment or child behavior problems and not as an unaccompanied refugee minor; and 4 have no major physical or developmental disability e. Youth who had severe physical disabilities and those with an IQ of less than 70 were excluded from the sample due to their likelihood of needing extended care following emancipation.

Before samples were drawn and prior to analyses, steps were taken to increase comparability and minimize preexisting differences e. Foster care research. This model describing critical factors impacting youth development in foster care is presented. Developmental theories and conceptual models. Theories and conceptual models explaining child growth and development and informing the Northwest Alumni Study are discussed. Research questions and hypotheses. This chapter concludes by presenting the primary and secondary research questions and hypotheses. Collaborators in the Northwest Alumni Study To ensure objectivity and examine a representative sample of alumni, the University of Washington, Harvard Medical School, and the University of Michigan Survey Research Center collaborated with three social service organizations to conduct the Northwest Alumni Study: 1.

A full list of project staff and key advisors is presented in Appendix A. A Cross Section of Foster Care Outcome Data22 Overview Studies have demonstrated that, after leaving foster care, many alumni are coping well with the effects of child maltreatment, but a substantial proportion are struggling. This table provides a concise summary of the outcome data from recent and classic foster care studies conducted in the United States.

Note that in many cases the foster care alumni data have not been compared with data on nonplaced youth of similar racial, economic, family background, and other relevant variables, but comparisons with general population data have been used where possible. Caution is needed, as the studies vary in terms of the age at which the data were collected, geographic areas covered, method of data collection, and sample size. Thus the averages provided are rough estimates. During-Care Outcomes Education What is the high school graduation rate for youth placed in foster care?

How many youth complete high school with a diploma? With a GED? How many alumni have enrolled in college? How many alumni received a BA or higher degree? There are no simple answers to this set of crucial questions because many youth complete high school later than age 18—often after leaving foster care. And yet, most outcome monitoring by agencies stops at youth discharge.

Furthermore, most follow-up studies include alumni at age 19, 20, or 21 instead of at ages 23—25, when many people complete high school with a GED, or at ages 23—30, when many would have had time to receive a college degree. Compared to the general population, fewer youth placed in foster care complete high school, but as mentioned above, these data are limited because dropout rates have not been carefully tracked and follow-up studies beyond age 22 are rare. For example, a study of alumni aged 20—51 averaging 30 years old found that What reasons are offered for this difference in rates?

What Works in Foster Care?: Key Components of Success From the Northwest Foster Care Alumni Study

Although some studies used a standardized case record review instrument, the reports were not necessarily screened or assessed using a consistent standard of proof. Continued Over the past 10 years, teen pregnancy while in foster care has been much higher than in the general population, but there are signs that this rate may be decreasing among youth in certain agencies. Relatively few studies have employed experimental designs.

Postdischarge Findings As described in Table 2. Some of these follow-up studies have been limited by a lack of agency funding, as well as staff time and expertise to conduct these evaluations. Until recently, little consensus existed about how and when to measure alumni functioning. More studies using multiple time points and longer-term follow-up are needed. If anything, the system encouraged parents to abandon their children, which is less the case now—especially with the emphasis upon kinship care by relatives if the birth parents are unable or unwilling to care for the child adequately.

One partial response has been the development of more evidence-based treatment foster care models e. In both areas of research that we reviewed earlier, there are many research gaps and areas where the evaluations could be strengthened. If children spend a year or more in foster care, the services and supports they receive can be potentially powerful interventions for remediating the effects of maltreatment and removal from the birth home.

Each of the following sections describes an area of the foster care experience that is hypothesized to have a positive effect on outcomes when seen in its positive form e. A brief rationale for each area follows. Note that there is little research on the long-term effects of many of these factors because older alumni have not been interviewed or studied.

Changing homes because of placement disruption compounds the sense of loss that children being placed must face by leaving behind parents and often siblings and friends. When rating their perception of foster care, alumni satisfaction was inversely related to the number of placements they had experienced. Lastly, Pecora et al. Placement changes also disrupt service provision, distress foster parents thereby lowering retention rates , cost precious worker time, and create administrative disruptions James, The dynamics of these changes are important, and their exploration can have important practice implications.

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For example, Leathers found that adolescents who were placed alone after a history of joint sibling placements were at greater risk for placement disruption than those who were placed with a consistent number of siblings not necessarily all of them. This association was mediated by a weaker sense of integration and belonging in the foster home. Some of these system or policy-related reasons stem from what might be thought of as sound practice decisions to help a Theoretical and Conceptual Frameworks 37 child reach a more permanent or developmentally appropriate living situation. Educational Services and Experience Many studies have documented the disproportionate rates of learning disabilities among children entering care and the extra educational supports they need because they are often one or more grade levels behind in school often because of changing schools as a result of changing placements , with partial school records and incomplete educational plans.

Foster youth have been found to 1 have lower scores on tests of academic achievement, 2 be more likely to have cognitive delays, 3 be placed in special education classes, 4 be absent from school, 5 be held back a grade, 6 display behavioral loss of control at school, and 7 drop out before obtaining a high school diploma or GED Courtney et al.

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Therapeutic Service and Supports The literature on child maltreatment clearly documents that children and youth enter foster care with higher levels of physical disabilities and mental health impairments compared to children and youth not in state care. A recent national study reported that Another study found that All of these studies underscore the importance of therapeutic services and supports. However, based on ecological models see below , the literature suggests that foster families can act as a powerful protective mechanism for development, especially when the 38 Introduction youth is engaged in the foster family and is an active participant in the foster care experience.

Preparation for Leaving Care Educational supports and career planning are two of the many contributors to life-skills preparation also known as independent living skills or transition skills. These skills are intended to prepare youth for later success. Having obtained these resources is likely an indicator of greater preparation for leaving care. Interviews with alumni from foster care have illustrated the importance of caring relationships with adults.

Maintaining positive connections to birth parents, siblings, and other kin is also critical in the development of youth regardless of how long they have been in out-of-home care before achieving permanency. It is thought that this effect occurs because interacting with birth families provides youth with a greater sense of identity, a sense of cultural self, and a historical connection. During analyses, the relation between the areas described in this section and outcomes was examined after controlling for demographics and risk factors including child maltreatment by the birth family.

Although much of the research presented does not relate these areas directly to adult outcomes, it is thought that if they affect short-term outcomes, they are likely to have an impact on long-term adult outcomes as well. It is critical that this important gap in research be closed in order to provide data that can be used for rational program planning.

For this reason, we offer a few suggestions: 1. Implement new studies of youth outcomes during and after care for all types of substitute care populations. Use standardized diagnostic measures that assess behavior, educational functioning, satisfaction, self-esteem, and other central dependent variables. Involve more youth in care, caregivers, alumni, and front-line staff in study design and data interpretation to help ensure that researchers gather meaningful information in respectful ways.

Conduct longitudinal research aimed at evaluating model foster care programs. This will enhance efforts to delineate program components that should be required of service contractors or incorporated into revised state models of foster care. Conduct experimental and quasi-experimental program studies to evaluate different models of family foster care and other interventions to help children.

Add to the few studies that have examined mental health disorders other than drug and alcohol use or depression. Provide comparisons with the general population of youth of similar age, ethnicity, and gender, along with the use of benchmarking data from similar programs and service populations. For example, we could explore the proposition that placement in family foster care, in conjunction with mental health, education, tutoring, and other services, may have a protective mediating effect upon the sequelae of child maltreatment.

Considerable amounts of money are invested to care for these children and the data suggest that we have achieved mixed results, some of which are no doubt due to the early adversities experienced by these children. A huge number of areas need to be explored more extensively, such as assessment methods to help place children in the most appropriate foster homes, interventions to help stabilize youth while in care, strategies for achieving permanency, methods to help youth reach key developmental milestones and gain life skills, and methods to determine what life-skills development approaches will help youth make a successful transition from foster care to living on their own.

Our research evidence base is thin in most of these areas, with few national studies, as most research has been based on limited geographic areas. Fortunately, the sophistication of the research is growing, more cohort studies are being conducted, agency management information systems are improving, and there is more consistency in some of the variables being used. As mentioned above, a variety of research efforts could be launched to build on this foundation.

The framework of the Northwest Alumni Study followed closely from this body of research, which addressed the mental health needs of youth in foster care in ways that had been neglected by most previous research Landsverk, See Fig. The framework placed the Northwest Alumni Study in a developmental context and highlighted the interactive effects that birth family characteristics, child characteristics, community ecology, and foster families can have on the development of children.

Mediating factors, including interactions with extended family and service delivery systems, are important determinants as well. The study design did include a small group of mediators in the area of foster care services and experiences of the alumni, and the effects of some of these mediators and moderators are examined in Chapters 10 and Factors inherent in children e. Moreover, Briere discusses the negative consequences of undetected abuse and delays in intervention.

Attachment theory predicts that the responsiveness of caregivers to infants including abuse patterns directly affects infant and early child development. Ecological theories argue that cultural and familial traditions shape the context and interpretation of patterns of interaction, including abuse and neglect, with children. What is regarded as unacceptable practice in some family contexts is seen as acceptable in others. Developmental framework adapted from Landsverk et al. Birth families often influence foster parent service delivery and functioning e.

The Northwest Alumni Study focuses only on a few systems of care variables, including mental health services, group work, and employment training. Figure 2. Some attachment theorists e. All of these views predict that the higher the quality of care, the better the adult outcomes. Erikson emphasizes that experiences in later adolescence and early adulthood can build on or undo earlier development.

Consequently, adult outcomes can be affected by the foster home placement, other interventions, and experiences that alumni have after care. Attachment theory emphasizes the effects of early attachment patterns and abuse on adult relationships, social skills development, and role characteristics. Briere and other researchers, such as Kendall-Tackett and Giacomoni , have documented how abuse and neglect patterns and their after effects are related to later mental health, cognitive functioning, physical health, relationships, and social skills. In contrast, parent separation most of the time and social involvement e.

Factors associated with verbal discipline were African American race, higher maternal education, and female gender. In general, harsher physical discipline is more likely to occur in families that are not on welfare. Limit setting was used less often when the biological father was in the home.

Mild spanking was used less often by mothers who had been victimized, but it was used more often by African Americans and families reported for maltreatment. In families where the teen mother has a male partner, there were more maltreatment reports before age four, and maltreated children were more likely to have behavior problems. The mothers who reported negative partner relationships were more likely to report more child behavior problems, regardless of maltreatment status, and to be depressed.

In families where the teen mother was living with her own mother, the teen mother was less likely to live with a man. This section begins by summarizing research on the effects of child maltreatment on outcomes, a variable that will be used both as a control when perpetrated by the birth family—labeled as a risk factor and as a predictor when perpetrated by the foster family or other Theoretical and Conceptual Frameworks 45 caregiver.

Although this is a risk factor, because it occurred while under agency supervision, it was usually labeled as a foster care experience. For a more complete summary, see Pecora et al. This section concludes by summarizing research on the effects of child maltreatment and foster care experiences on outcomes. The Effects of Child Maltreatment Numerous researchers and clinicians have documented the importance of intervening to prevent or stop child maltreatment and to treat both perpetrators and victims e.

While some maltreated children function well as adults, others are at high risk for adverse adult outcomes, possibly related to negative consequences of both the abuse and, in some cases, removal from the home Becker et al. These consequences, in turn, are dependent upon a number of factors, including the type, severity, frequency, number of perpetrators, and developmental timing of the abuse or neglect. There is a growing recognition and some convergence of research indicating that various forms of child maltreatment have a dynamic and interactive effect on development over time.

For these and other reasons, fully understanding the impact that child maltreatment plays in development is a great challenge. This section presents several theories that help explain child growth and development. Given previous research on the effects of foster care and child maltreatment on adult outcomes, the Northwest Alumni Study collected case record and interview data on three classes of variables: 1 demographics 46 Introduction and risk factors e.

For each theory or model listed below, examples are presented to show how the theory or model informed the selection of variables used in the Northwest Alumni Study. How was it used in the Northwest Alumni Study? Attachment theory was particularly relevant for inclusion of child maltreatment and a positive relationship with an adult while growing up.

For child maltreatment, extensive information was collected on maltreatment perpetrated by the birth family a risk factor and the foster family or other caregiver an experience while in care. Trauma Theory Briere and others have examined the effects of abuse and neglect and offered explanations for variations in the types and impact of abuse and the impact of immediate or delayed intervention.

Thus, both the type and number of types of child maltreatment were assessed. Among the extensive information collected about child maltreatment regardless of perpetrator, the type of maltreatment was detailed see Chapter 5. Based on extensive research, this approach combines sexual abuse, physical abuse, physical neglect, and emotional maltreatment to examine the relationship with outcomes Runyan et al.

For example, this research underscores the value of living situation stability, positive adult relationships, connections to the community via extracurricular activities, and positive peer networks. Recent research attempts to gain an understanding of resilience as a process rather than a set of traits or factors. This notion is focused on the role of the environment and context in the development of resilience, and it allows for the provision of services to enhance evidenced-based protective factors in children and adolescents who may not have had a resilient outlook previously because of the multiple community and individual risk factors they have experienced.

While a particular risk and protective factor framework was not used in the study, this perspective did inform the variables that were chosen. According to this perspective, these kinds of services and supports should alleviate the impact of some risk factors e. This is described more fully later in this chapter. An interviewer recalled a respondent who told of her mother, who was a drug dealer and was incarcerated when the respondent was nine.

The foster mother who took her in also took her three siblings and immediately made them all a part of the family. Her older, grown children accepted them as new brothers and sisters, and they all knew they were loved and were very well cared for. Ecological and Risk-Based Developmental Models These models complement the risk and protective factor theories discussed above because they stress the importance of individual, familial, and social contexts e. When examining life outcomes and mental health functioning of alumni from foster care, it is important to note that child characteristics interact with the experience of child maltreatment risk and foster care protection to produce outcomes.

From an ecological and protective factors perspective, in addition to the services and supports mentioned above, foster families can act as a powerful microsystem intervention that can have important protective and ameliorative functions for the youth. Therefore, data were collected on how engaged the youth was in his or her foster family including participation in enjoyable and religious activities. To test this model, these variables were examined in relation to outcomes. Thus, access to therapeutic services and supports, which may remediate the effects of child maltreatment, was measured.

The children with the protective version of the gene were far less affected by a lack of contact with their primary adult caregiver. The study indicates that good support ameliorates the effect of abuse and the vulnerability produced by the high-risk genotype Kaufman et al.

This brief example is presented to illustrate that research about the interaction of genetics and behavior, as well as other social science research, is documenting the value of positive relationships with adults, peers, and others. Consequently, the association between placement stability to help children maintain their support networks and adult achievements and functioning is important.

Fewer turnovers among placements therefore may be linked with greater proportions of alumni reporting ongoing relations with supportive adults and peers, as well as other positive effects on adult outcomes. In addition to placement information, educational stability was assessed i. Combined, this information is important for understanding relationships and social supports and may have important implications for other adult outcomes.

Many of the 50 Introduction questions and hypotheses concern functioning for certain outcomes e. Data presented in subsequent chapters provide answers to many questions that are not presented in the sections below. Similarly, only a sampling of all questions and hypotheses is presented. However, some hypotheses and questions concern demographics, risk factors, the intervening agency, and their relationship to outcomes. In general, lower levels of risk factors and higher levels of a positive foster care experience are hypothesized to be more closely related to positive outcomes.

For example, it was expected that alumni with fathers not involved in the criminal justice system a lower level of a risk factor would exhibit more positive outcomes than alumni with fathers involved in the criminal justice system. Further, it was expected that alumni with fewer placements while in care a more positive foster care experience would exhibit more positive outcomes than alumni with more placements.

For example, it was not expected that females would exhibit more positive outcomes than males. Primary Research Questions As described above, the primary research questions of the Northwest Alumni Study concern both prevalence rates and relationships between demographics, risk factors, the intervening agency, foster care experiences, and outcomes.

The primary research questions are as follows: 1. How are maltreated youth placed in foster care faring as adults? Is one foster care program approach better than another in terms of outcomes? However, we hypothesized Theoretical and Conceptual Frameworks 51 that, in general, lower levels of risk factors and higher levels of a positive foster care experience would be related to positive adult outcomes.

Due to the large quantity of data and large number of relationships among variables see Chapters 6—9 , only a small set of hypotheses is presented here for each primary research question repeated below : 1. The following experiences while in care were hypothesized to be related to more positive outcomes: 1 A more stable placement history 2 More access to educational tutoring supports and educational stability 3 More access to therapeutic services and supports 4 More involvement with the foster family 5 Greater preparation for leaving care e.

Also informing questions and hypotheses was research on the impact of foster care on outcomes. Based on this background information, questions and hypotheses for the Northwest Alumni Study were generated. Primary research questions included the following: 1. It was hypothesized that alumni would exhibit functioning that was lower than that of the general population comparisons but comparable to or better than that of alumni from other studies. Further, it was hypothesized that, in general, lower levels of risk factors and higher levels of a positive foster care experience would be related to more positive outcomes.

I felt that they could give kids hands-on training, even stuff like working with knives, how to run a mower, how to run a weed eater. I mean all the little tiny stuff that most kids get the advantage of doing throughout the day. A social worker should be more prone to listen to your problems and actually, you know, act like they care.

This chapter provides the background for two research questions concerning youth spending extended periods of time in care: 1 Are there key factors or program components linked to better functioning of youth from care as they reach adulthood? Kessler , Jason Williams , Diana J. English , Kirk O'Brien , A. Chris Downs , James White. On any given day, nearly half a million children are served by foster care services in the U. Growing demand and shrinking funds have so greatly stressed the child welfare system that calls for orphanages have re-entered the public debate for the first time in nearly half a century.

New ideas are desperately needed to transform a system in crisis, guarantee better outcomes for children in foster care, and reduce the need for out-of-home care in the first place. Yet little is known about what works in foster care.