Predictors of Stability for Former Foster Children in Adoptive and Guardianship Homes
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Abstract Predictors of Stability for Former Foster Children in Adoptive and Guardianship Homes Today we are at a crossroads with a growing number of children living outside the formal foster care system in adoptive and guardianship homes. While generally lauded as positive, with an assumption of long-term relationships for all, to date little is known about the long-term outcomes of these children and families. Guided by bonding social capital and the social support literature, the study follows a population (n=4,155) and a sample (n=438) of teen-aged youth living in Chicago in 2008 through 2011 to provide a longitudinal overview of the outcomes for these families. Methods: Survival analysis was employed to account for the time-varying nature of the data, and Hayes’ conditional process model was employed to identify key mediating pathways. Results: The vast majority of children (92%) experienced continuity of care following adoption and guardianship. A main hypothesis tested in this study was if adoption was a more stable permanency option than guardianship. While this study found adoption to be more stable than guardianship, the post-hoc analyses suggests that perhaps this is due to the operationalization of instability, and that future studies should examine how this is defined. The second hypothesis confirmed that children who transitioned from state custody with relatives were more stable than children who transitioned with non-related caregivers. Finally, this study did not see a statistically significant moderating impact of bonding social capital and the conditional process modeling did not result in any significant mediating or moderating effects. Implications: This study expands the idea of permanency to include the long-term stability of children after legal oversight has ended and children have transitioned from state custody to adoption or guardianship, and lays the foundation for future research regarding how child welfare systems can better support these families. At a minimum, this study suggests that child welfare field should be aware of this emerging population and be prepared to address their unique needs. Understanding what it takes for these children to remain in stable homes is critical at this juncture; they are the new face of child welfare.
Hayes conditional modeling