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May 2008Vol. 9, No. 4Determining Children's Access to Benefits and Services

Two new research briefs use longitudinal data from the National Survey of Child and Adolescent Well-Being (NSCAW) to explore the provision of services for children in out-of-home care.

Estimates of Supplemental Security Income Eligibility for Children in Out-of-Home Placements examined Supplemental Security Income (SSI) eligibility among children in out-of-home placements such as foster care. A child may be eligible for SSI if he or she has a physical or mental condition that results in severe and long-term disability. Data from the Adoption and Foster Care Analysis and Reporting System (AFCARS) show that an average of 5.3 percent of children living in foster care in 2005 received SSI.

An analysis of NSCAW data indicated that a large percentage of children in the foster care system are potentially eligible to receive SSI, and this percentage is significantly higher than current rates reported in AFCARS data. The report concludes that routine screenings of children in foster care for health and psychological conditions could result in many more children being identified as eligible for SSI and might also improve links to other services that could benefit the children in the long term. (PDF - 517 KB)

Does Substantiation of Child Maltreatment Relate to Child Well-Being and Service Receipt? examined measures of well-being for children in substantiated and unsubstantiated maltreatment cases. Children in both types of cases had similar scores on well-being measures, yet caseworkers usually believed that children in substantiated cases needed more services for health problems, emotional or behavior problems, and special education than children in unsubstantiated cases.

The study concludes that children involved in CPS investigations have substantial unmet mental health and special education needs that likely need further attention, regardless of the maltreatment investigation outcome. (PDF - 381 KB)

Both research briefs were developed by the Administration for Children and Families Office of Planning, Research, and Evaluation (OPRE). Additional briefs focus on the characteristics of children in foster care, provisions of services to children and their families, prevalence of special health care needs, and use of early intervention services. The full list is available on the OPRE website: