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Using Longitudinal Data to Further Understand the Foster Care Experience. Joe Magruder, Ph.D. Center for Social Services Research School of Social Welfare University of California at Berkeley Child Welfare League of America Washington February 28, 2012

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using longitudinal data to further understand the foster care experience

Using Longitudinal Data to Further Understand the Foster Care Experience

Joe Magruder, Ph.D.

Center for Social Services Research

School of Social Welfare

University of California at Berkeley

Child Welfare League of America

Washington February 28, 2012

The California Child Welfare Performance Indicators Project is supported by the California Department of Social Services and the Stuart Foundation

overview
Overview
  • What we know now: First Placement Episode Outputs with only publicly available child-based data
  • Linked data: Adding to what we know
    • Linked parent and sibling data
    • Linked birth record data
    • Linked placement episode data
  • Summary
some typical longitudinal first episode trajectories of children entering care as newborns

Reunification

Adoption

Reunification

Reunification

Reunification

Guardianship

4 Years

Birth

1 Year

2 Years

3 Years

Some Typical Longitudinal First Episode Trajectories of Children Entering Care as Newborns
first episode summary
First Episode Summary
  • We know a lot about the outputs of first placement episodes
  • In the case of infants:
    • Reunification rates have at least been constant
    • Adoption rates have increased
    • Still in care rates have fallen
  • Changes have occurred across ethnicity, although Blacks lag in reunification and adoption
but we also know
But we also know:
  • Children reenter care.

Thus: When the child’s entire foster care experience is considered, what is the child’s status at, e.g., 10 years of age?

  • Children exist in the context of families. Thus: What child and family characteristics are associated with the child’s status?
some typical longitudinal first episode trajectories of children entering care as newborns1

Reunification

Adoption

Reunification

Reunification

Reunification

Guardianship

4 Years

Birth

1 Year

2 Years

3 Years

Some Typical Longitudinal First Episode Trajectories of Children Entering Care as Newborns
data linking
Data linking

To seek answers to these questions, three forms of data linking are considered:

  • Longitudinal linking between placement episodes, including with post adoption placements.
  • Horizontal linking between children and their parents and siblings.
  • External linking to birth certificate data.
slide26
The data are from California Children’s Services Archive at the Center for Social Services Research.

The archive is a longitudinal data base based on the California Child Welfare Services Case Management System (CWS/CMS).

Prior to analysis, the data were extensively cleaned and linked (e.g., to parents and siblings)

Data
study population
Study Population
  • 5,875 children born in 1999
  • First entered California foster care before age 1
  • Followed until tenth birthday
  • Child characteristics:
    • 52.4% entered as neonates
    • 48.8% female
    • 39.8% Hispanic, 27.2% Black, 28.8% White
    • 86.6% removed due to neglect
data cleaning
Data Cleaning
  • Episode level
    • Consecutive episodes merged if 0 or 1 day gap
    • Starting/ending dates conformed to placement dates
    • Trial home visits of > 30 days ended episode
  • Placement level
    • Placement overlap eliminated
    • Placement before birth is impossible
    • Consecutive placements with the same caregiver merged if 0 or 1 day gap
data linking1
Data Linking
  • Longitudinal
    • All placement episodes for cohort children were identified
    • Matching used to identify adoption reentries
  • Horizontal
    • Parents identified
    • Other children of mothers (maternal siblings) identified
  • External
    • Probabilistic matching with birth certificate data
the children s mothers
The Children’s Mothers
  • Median age: 27 (neonates 29, other 24)
  • 40.6% had had other children in care (neonates 53.3%, other 26.8%)
  • 10.7% had had other children adopted (neonates 16.2%, other 4.8%)
  • 10% incarcerated while child in care (neonates 11.1%, other 8.7%)
the children s fathers
The Children’s Fathers

88.8% identified in child welfare record

(neonates 87.9%, other 89.8%

Of those who were identified:

  • 13.4% age not reported (neonates 16.7%, other 9.8%)
  • Median age: 30 (neonates 33, other 28)
  • 13.8% incarcerated while child in care (neonates 12.5%, other 15.2%)
birth certificate data
Birth Certificate Data

Of the 91.4% with a Birth Certificate match:

  • 48.3% Father named on birth certificate
  • 61.8% Descriptive data on father
  • 75.7% Medi-Cal funded delivery
  • 17.5% Abnormality identified
  • Maternal education:
    • 49.6% Less than high school
    • 37.3% High school
    • 11.3% Some college
    • 1.8% College graduate
effect of adding parent sibling data
Effect of Adding Parent/Sibling Data
  • Reunification after first placement episode
  • Reentry after first placement episode
effect of adding all placement episodes longitudinal data
Effect of Adding All Placement Episodes (Longitudinal Data)
  • Case Flow
  • Comparison over time between First Episode Outputs and Actual Status
  • Status at age 10
summary
Summary
  • The traditional first episode analysis overstates reunification and understates adoption.
  • Long-term foster care is increasingly rare.
  • Having had older siblings in care and age at entry are predictors of outcome.
  • Fathers matter.
cssr berkeley edu ucb childwelfare joemagruder@berkeley edu

Thank you to our colleagues at the Center for Social Services Research, the California Department of Social Services, and the Stuart Foundation

cssr.berkeley.edu/ucb_childwelfarejoemagruder@berkeley.edu