Gift Guide

From Child Abuse to Foster Care: Child Welfare Services Pathways and Placements


More than two million child abuse reports are filed annually on behalf of children in the United States. Each of the reported children becomes a concern, at least temporarily, of the professional who files the report, and each family is assessed by additional professionals. A substantial number of children in these families will subsequently enter foster care.

Until now, the relationships between the performance of our child welfare system and the growth and outcomes of foster ...

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More than two million child abuse reports are filed annually on behalf of children in the United States. Each of the reported children becomes a concern, at least temporarily, of the professional who files the report, and each family is assessed by additional professionals. A substantial number of children in these families will subsequently enter foster care.

Until now, the relationships between the performance of our child welfare system and the growth and outcomes of foster care have not been understood. In an effort to clarify them, Barth and his colleagues have synthesized the results of their longitudinal study in California of the paths taken by children after the initial abuse report: foster care, a return to their homes, or placement for adoption.

Because the outcomes of child welfare services in California have national significance, this is far more than a regional study. It provides a comprehensive picture of children's experiences in the child welfare system and a gauge of the effectiveness of that system. The policy implications of the California study have bearing on major federal and state initiatives to prevent child abuse and reduce unnecessary foster and group home care.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“Permanency planning, the child welfare revolution of the 1970s and '80s, sought to end the limbo and drift that so many children in foster care experienced. Barth and his colleagues (all at the Univ. of California, Berkeley, except Courtney, Univ. of Wisconsin, Madison) report findings from a large-scale California study that investigated the extent to which the promise of permanency planning is being fulfilled… An important contribution to the literature on child welfare, recommended for scholars and policy makers as well as administrators and practitioners in the field.” —B. A. Pine, Choice “The authors use data from California’s child welfare system to explore current trends in service delivery as they reflect the permanency planning mandate of the Adoption Assistance and Child Welfare Act of 1980… As this instructive volume makes clear, until the child welfare system becomes a family welfare system, it is folly to hope for a significant increase in permanency for children.” —Martha Morrison Dore, Journal of Marriage and the Family “This book arises from the work of the Berkeley Child Welfare Research Center… Its considerable strengths lie in the quality, range and substance of the data it has gathered, analysed and synthesized.” —Ian Butler, International Social Work “If we want to enhance the lives of children and families we touch, then we must fill the gaps in our knowledge about what happens to them in the child welfare system. The authors of From Child Abuse to Permanency Planning have made an important contribution to improving outcomes for children and families by expanding out knowledge of the current paths taken by some children from report, to placements, to discharge.” —Kathy Barbell, Child Welfare
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780202363974
  • Publisher: Transaction Publishers
  • Publication date: 11/5/2010
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 310
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.30 (d)

Meet the Author

Richard P. Barth is dean of the School of Social Work and professor at the University of Maryland. He is the author or editor of numerous books in The Child Welfare Challenge and Adoption and Prenatal Drug Exposure. Mark Courtney is director of research and development and the Ballmer Endowed Chair for Child Well-Being at the University of Washington School of Social Work.

Jill Duerr Berrick is Zellerbach Family Professor and co-director, Center for Child and Youth Policy at the University of California, Berkeley.

Vicky Albert is associate professor of social work at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. She is the author of Welfare Dependence and Welfare Policy.

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Table of Contents

Preface ix

Part I Examining Child Abuse and Child Welfare Caseloads and Careers

1 Understanding Pathways to Permanency 3

Toward Dynamic Data 9

Our Approach to the Study of Pathways and Placements 16

The Future of Permanency Planning 18

2 Growth in Child Abuse Reports and Child Welfare Services Caseloads 23

Reform of California Child Welfare Services 24

Trends in California's Emergency Response Dispositions 25

Trends in California's Family Maintenance Caseload 27

Trends in California's Foster Care Caseload 27

Comparison of Trends 31

Modeling the Number of Child Abuse Reports 33

Time Series Results 41

Summary and Implications 43

The Simulations 45

Summary, Policy, and Practice Implications 49

Appendix 52

3 From Child Abuse Report to Child Welfare Services 55

Sample Selection and Characteristics 56

The Referral Process 58

Types and Sources of Referrals 59

Referrals: Number and Length of Time between Referrals 65

Disposition Reasons 68

Summary and Policy Objectives 71

Notes 74

Part II Analyzing Foster Care Pathways

4 Rethinking and Researching Length of Stay in Foster Care 79

Previous Research on Duration of Foster Care 80

Cross-Sectional Point-in-Time Studies 80

Retrospective or Longitudinal Studies Using Non-Event-History Methods 83

Event-History Analysis of Length of Stay in Foster Care 90

Conclusion 100

Notes 103

5 Reunification from Kinship and Nonkinship Foster Care 105

A Proportional-Hazards Model 114

Kinship Care: Just Another Placement Option, or Something Completely Different? 122

Summary 128

Notes 132

6 Factors Associated with Entrance to Group Care 135

Sample and Method 138

First Placement in Group Care 138

Later Placement in Group Care 143

Summary 147

Notes 152

7 Time to Adoption 153

Odds of Adoption 156

Odds of Timely Adoption and Adoption Legalization 163

Discussion 173

Part III Child and Placement Characteristics

8 Specialized Foster Care: A Home for Children with Special Needs 179

Who is the Professional Foster Parent? 183

Why Be a Specialized Foster Parent? 184

Length of Stay in the Field 185

Satisfaction with the Experience 186

A Look at Specialized Foster Care Agencies 186

Discussion 189

9 Kinship Care: Rights and Responsibilities, Services and Standards with Barbara Needell 195

The Evolution of Kin Placement 195

Study Format 200

Demographic Characteristics of Caregivers 203

The Path toward Placement 208

Characteristics 209

Discussion 214

Summary 216

Notes 219

10 Group Care for Children 221

A Survey of Group Care Providers 223

The Future of Group Care 228

Discussion 230

Summary 232

11 Similarities and Differences in the Characteristics of Children in Out-of-Home Care 235

A Comparative Look at Children in Out-of-Home Care 237

Discussion 248

Notes 252

Part IV Implications

12 Trends and Recommendations for the Next Decade 255

Child Abuse Reports Continue to Spiral Upward 255

Child Abuse Assessments are the Most Common Child Welfare Service 257

Child Welfare Services Become Increasingly Articulated and Accountable 257

Child Welfare Services are Focusing on Infants and Young Children 258

Kinship Foster Care Swells 259

Foster Care is Getting Harder to Enter and Harder to Leave 261

Special-Needs Adoption Gains and Loses Prominence 262

Guardianship Will Expand 264

Integration of Family Preservation, Assessment and Referral 265

The Length of Foster Care Is Rising Again 266

The Expansion of Shared Family Care 268

The Information and Outcome Age are Dawning 268

Rationalizing Out-of-Home Care 271

Independent Living Skills Programs Will Evolve 272

Specialized Foster Care Will Expand 272

Conclusions 273

References 275

Author Index 288

Subject Index 291

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