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June 2010Vol. 11, No. 5Out-of-Home Care by State and Urban/Rural Designation

The Carsey Institute at the University of New Hampshire has developed a factsheet of out-of-home care placement rates based on metropolitan status. Federal AFCARS (Adoption and Foster Care Analysis and Reporting System) data from 2007 were categorized into the following areas:

  • Metropolitan/urban counties
  • Nonmetropolitan counties adjacent to urban settings
  • Remote rural counties

The factsheet includes a table that shows rates (per 1,000) of children and youth in out-of-home care at any time in 2007 by place, State, and region. The average placement rate for the country was 10.5 (per 1,000). Higher rates of out-of-home care were found in remote rural areas both nationally and within each region, and nearly half of the States have their highest placement rates in remote rural areas.

The report's authors provide several possible explanations for findings:

  • Larger populations of African-American and Latino children, who tend to have higher placement rates, may increase the risk of placement in an area.
  • Some States and regions have higher poverty rates, which may increase the need for child welfare involvement, including out-of-home care.
  • A scarcity in support and mental health services in rural areas may contribute to higher rates of out-of-home placements in resource-poor areas.
  • Placement rates across States and types of communities may be affected by the child welfare agencies' differing policies and procedures.

For more information, read Out-of-Home Care by State and Place: Higher Placement Rates for Children in Some Remote Rural Places, by Marybeth J. Mattingly, Melissa Wells, and Michael Dineen, published by the Carsey Institute:  (175 KB)