Munich Personal RePEc Archive

How Can Research Improve Foster Care Policy and Practice?

Kroeger, Sarah and Monahan, Tess and Perry, Brendan (2022): How Can Research Improve Foster Care Policy and Practice?

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Foster care in childhood predicts lower education levels and employment rates in adulthood relative to non-foster care children, including higher rates of incarceration, and adverse mental and physical health outcomes. These differences persist even after controlling for racial, economic, and neighborhood effects. Given these disparities and that 4-6 percent of the United States population experiences foster care at some point in childhood, there is a clear need to identify policies and programs that are effective in improving outcomes for individuals during and after foster care. This paper surveys the existing research and policy landscape to highlight what approaches are being taken and what is currently known about effective services for children and youth in foster care. We identify high priority foster care research questions and offer suggestions for how to best pursue these questions. The majority of published research papers related to foster care programs or best practices lack the requisite design or minimum sample size to identify causal impact.

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