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Establishing Case Typologies in Foster Care. Susan J. Wells, Margaret Skrypek & Kimberly Ford A project conducted by the Gamble-Skogmo Chair in Child Welfare and Youth Policy University of Minnesota School of Social Work

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establishing case typologies in foster care

Establishing Case Typologies in Foster Care

Susan J. Wells, Margaret Skrypek & Kimberly Ford

A project conducted by the

Gamble-Skogmo Chair in Child Welfare and Youth Policy

University of Minnesota School of Social Work

Susan J. Wells, PI; Research Assistants: Margaret Griesgraber, Kimberly Ford, Tamara Kincaid, Lucy Alderton, Jose Diaz, Kristin Bauerkemper , Laura Koranda, Amber Link

Funded by the USDHHS Children’s Bureau, Grant # 90-CA-1719/02

need for the study emphasis on outcomes in child welfare
Need for the Study: Emphasis on Outcomes in Child Welfare
  • Helps us think more systematically about intervention and measuring progress of children and families and the systems that serve them
  • Begins to lay the basis for identifying and documenting evidence-based practice – however….
  • Can cause confusion in comparisons among local and state child welfare agencies

Contact: Susan J. Wells swells@umn.edu

University of Minnesota School of Social Work

the value of case typologies
The Value of Case Typologies
  • Help workers apply appropriate intervention strategies
  • Allow agencies to measure success by identifying the probable outcomes of various case types
  • Permit workers to understand changing family and community trends and anticipate service needs
  • Facilitate tracking and comparing data across programs

Contact: Susan J. Wells swells@umn.edu

University of Minnesota School of Social Work

historically major classifications in developing case typologies related to child welfare
Historically, Major Classifications in Developing Case Typologies Related to Child Welfare….

1. According to the characteristics of the parent(s)

2. According to environmental factors

3. Based on child characteristics

Contact: Susan J. Wells swells@umn.edu

University of Minnesota School of Social Work

research question
Research Question
  • Is it possible to identify different types of cases in foster care that are reliably associated with different outcomes?
  • If yes, what are these types and how are outcomes affected?

Contact: Susan J. Wells swells@umn.edu

University of Minnesota School of Social Work

overview of methods
Overview of Methods
  • State administrative survey
  • AFCARS analysis
  • Worker/Supervisor focus groups

Contact: Susan J. Wells swells@umn.edu

University of Minnesota School of Social Work

child welfare worker perspectives
Child Welfare Worker Perspectives

A qualitative study of focus group data gathered in five counties in Minnesota

Contact: Susan J. Wells swells@umn.edu

University of Minnesota School of Social Work

demographics of the focus groups
Demographics of the Focus Groups
  • Five Minnesota counties
  • Focus groups of 4 to 12 participants
    • Mean number of participants = 8.6
    • Mean participation rate = 10.5%
  • Majority of participants were Caucasian women
  • Child welfare experience of participants ranged from 2 months to 25 years
    • Mean years of experience = 7.6 yrs

Contact: Susan J. Wells swells@umn.edu

University of Minnesota School of Social Work

data collection
Data Collection

Focus Group participants were asked to identify:

  • types of cases they encounter other than abuse and neglect cases
  • characteristics of these cases
  • services offered to clients in these cases
  • outcomes of the cases
  • Participants were asked to be specific and to respond in their own words.

Contact: Susan J. Wells swells@umn.edu

University of Minnesota School of Social Work

data analysis
Data Analysis
  • Coding process
    • Each researcher individually coded the data from the first focus group
    • Researchers compared categories to check for interrater reliability
    • Each researcher coded data for the two focus groups she attended
    • Researchers used data from individual counties to create a comprehensive typology
    • Researchers conducted second-level coding

Contact: Susan J. Wells swells@umn.edu

University of Minnesota School of Social Work

study findings
Study Findings
  • Final Typology of 18 case types within four broad categories:
    • Parent’s Capacity or Behavior
    • Child Reasons
    • Problems in Parenting
    • Previous Unsuccessful Child WelfareIntervention

Contact: Susan J. Wells swells@umn.edu

University of Minnesota School of Social Work

case types by category
Case Types by Category
  • Parent’s capacity or behavior
    • Parent’s inability to care for child because of parent’s mental health
    • Parent’s inability to care for child because of parent’s medical reason/disability
    • Parent’s inability to care for child because of parent’s substance abuse
    • Child is exposed to domestic violence
    • Parent absent from the home

Contact: Susan J. Wells swells@umn.edu

University of Minnesota School of Social Work

case types by category cont
Case Types by Category (cont.)
  • Child Reasons
    • Parent’s inability to provide care because of child’s medical reasons
    • Parent’s inability to care for child because of child’s mental health
    • Child behavior (including child substance abuse)

Contact: Susan J. Wells swells@umn.edu

University of Minnesota School of Social Work

case types by category cont1
Case Types by Category (cont.)
  • Problems in Parenting
    • Physical abuse: parent or caretaker
    • Sexual abuse: parent or caretaker
    • Emotional abuse
    • Parent abandons child
    • Neglect (unsafe in home, basic needs unmet, etc.)
    • Physical or sexual abuse (parent’s failure to protect from perpetrator)
    • Parent–child conflict

Contact: Susan J. Wells swells@umn.edu

University of Minnesota School of Social Work

case types by category cont2
Case Types by Category (cont.)
  • Previous unsuccessful child welfare intervention
    • Pregnant mother with prior involuntary termination of parental rights
    • Failed adoptive placements
    • Relative lack of follow-through in transfer of custody

Contact: Susan J. Wells swells@umn.edu

University of Minnesota School of Social Work

factors affecting the level or type of service
Factors Affecting the Level or Type of Service
  • Age of child
  • Vulnerability of the child
  • Court involvement

Contact: Susan J. Wells swells@umn.edu

University of Minnesota School of Social Work

how outcomes differ by case type
How Outcomes Differ by Case Type
  • Higher rates of re-entry:
    • Cases involving parents with chemical dependency
    • Cases that are particularly complex
  • Participant responses were inconsistent regarding cases with lowest rates of re-entry

Contact: Susan J. Wells swells@umn.edu

University of Minnesota School of Social Work

advantages and limitations of focus group study
Advantages and Limitations of Focus Group Study
  • Case typology used child welfare workers’ perspectives
  • Rich level of data with important detail regarding case types
  • Qualitative methodology with no objective test of validity
  • Sample population from MN only - not generalizable

Contact: Susan J. Wells swells@umn.edu

University of Minnesota School of Social Work

afcars analysis
AFCARS Analysis
  • Analyzed AFCARS data from 10 states using two-step cluster analysis to determine if certain types of cases cluster together
  • Using cluster analysis and literature on different case types, identified groups of case characteristics to develop 19 case types
  • Combined the case types in logistic regressions for each of the 10 states to predict 2 federal outcome measures – placement stability and re-entry into foster care

Contact: Susan J. Wells swells@umn.edu

University of Minnesota School of Social Work

advantages and limitations of using the 2001 afcars data
Advantages and Limitations of Using the 2001 AFCARS Data
  • Information on numerous child and case characteristics
  • Cross-sectional snapshot of children in the foster care system rather than change over time
  • Inconsistencies in foster care reporting among states
  • Variation in the demographic composition of the children and in types of cases captured.
  • Quality and consistency of descriptive data collected

Contact: Susan J. Wells swells@umn.edu

University of Minnesota School of Social Work

cluster analysis
Cluster Analysis
  • For state sampling, identified homogenous groupings of states based on 3 common variables related to:
    • Demographics
    • Performance
    • Size of foster care system
  • 58 AFCARS variables were used to perform a cluster analysis on data from the selected states
  • Discriminant analysis was used to validate case cluster membership

Contact: Susan J. Wells swells@umn.edu

University of Minnesota School of Social Work

resulted in over 100 clusters or sub clusters identified variables characterizing clusters
Resulted in over 100 clusters or sub-clusters; Identified variables characterizing clusters…
  • Significant in formation of clusters
  • Representing a large portion of cases in a specific cluster or…
  • Equally distributed among clusters and constituting at least 33% of a cluster
  • Developed maps of relationships of variables in different clusters

Contact: Susan J. Wells swells@umn.edu

University of Minnesota School of Social Work

final case types were established by
Final Case Types Were Established by
  • Using the variable/cluster mapping to identify case groupings and then
  • Developing a hierarchy of membership so case types were mutually exclusive
  • Using vars from clusters, beginning with the case characteristics recog. in prior literature as associated with varying case dynamics

Contact: Susan J. Wells swells@umn.edu

University of Minnesota School of Social Work

percentages of case type by state for children who entered foster care
Percentages of Case Type by State for Children Who Entered Foster Care

Contact: Susan J. Wells swells@umn.edu University of Minnesota School of Social Work

percentages of case type by state for children who entered foster care cont
Percentages of Case Type by State for Children Who Entered Foster Care (cont.)

Contact: Susan J. Wells swells@umn.edu

University of Minnesota School of Social Work

percentages of case type by state for children who entered foster care cont1
Percentages of Case Type by State for Children Who Entered Foster Care (cont.)

Contact: Susan J. Wells swells@umn.edu

University of Minnesota School of Social Work

slide28
Contact: Susan J. Wells swells@umn.edu University of Minnesota School of Social Work

[1] The overall ranking reflects the average ranking when all states (N=9) are taken into account and occurs only for case types that show relative consistency, e.g. individual state ranking is generally within 3 digits across states.

[2] Manually removed because the case type contained a low number of frequencies (indicated by an inflated standard error)

[3] SPSS automatically removed from model because variable contained 0 frequencies

[1] The overall ranking reflects the average ranking when all states (N=9) are taken into account and occurs only for case types that show relative consistency, e.g. individual state ranking is generally within 3 digits across states.

[2] Manually removed because the case type contained a low number of frequencies (indicated by an inflated standard error)

[3] SPSS automatically removed from model because variable contained 0 frequencies

table notes
Table Notes

[1] The overall ranking reflects the average ranking when all states (N=9) are taken into account and occurs only for case types that show relative consistency, e.g. individual state ranking is generally within 3 digits across states.

[2] Manually removed because the case type contained a low number of frequencies (indicated by an inflated standard error)

[3] SPSS automatically removed from model because variable contained 0 frequencies

Contact: Susan J. Wells swells@umn.edu

University of Minnesota School of Social Work

some notable findings
Some Notable Findings
  • Clusters broke out by age and race of child
  • Clusters highly related to child problems and reasons for entry into care
  • Most likely to re-enter: behavior problem, all races, ages 11 and older
  • Some similarities and some great differences among states in case types and assoc. outcomes

Contact: Susan J. Wells swells@umn.edu

University of Minnesota School of Social Work

multi method integrated findings
Multi-method Integrated Findings
  • Emotional problems, clinically diagnosed disabilities and behavior problems were primary issues in quantitatively identified case typologies and outcomes
  • Yet, the way these cases are served and reported varies greatly among states
  • And fed’l stds apply equally across all states

Contact: Susan J. Wells swells@umn.edu

University of Minnesota School of Social Work

multi method integrated findings 2
Multi-method Integrated Findings (2)
  • Common multi-method findings
    • Child’s medical, mental health, behavior
    • Sexual abuse
    • Neglect
  • Additional qualitative findings
    • Positive toxicology in newborns (low #s)
    • Failed child welfare intervention (important add.)
    • Child MH and parent/child conflict

Contact: Susan J. Wells swells@umn.edu

University of Minnesota School of Social Work