• November 2002
  • Vol. 3, No. 9

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Report Shows Foster Care Experience Differs by Urban Area

A recent study, Foster Care Dynamics in Urban and Non-Urban Counties reveals that the experiences of children in foster care vary depending on whether they live in primary urban areas (the counties with the largest child welfare system in a given State), secondary urban areas (other urban counties), or non-urban counties. The authors, Fred H. Wulczyn and Kristin Brunner Hislop of the Chapin Hall Center for Children at the University of Chicago, demonstrate that these variations persist even when controlling for differences in age, race, and placement type.

One finding showed that placements in urban areas tend to be longer. Among children entering foster care for the first time between 1990 and 1999, 50 percent of those in non-urban areas had exited the system by 9.9 months. In secondary urban areas it took more than a year (12.6 months) to achieve the same result; in primary urban areas, the figure was nearly 2 years (23.7 months).

Their findings could aid in the development of more targeted prevention and service programs. For example, the researchers found that infants in primary urban areas are 4 to 5 times more likely than children of other ages to enter foster care. This suggests that prevention initiatives targeting at-risk families with pregnant women could significantly impact the use of foster care in those areas.

A complete copy of the study is available on the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services website at http://aspe.hhs.gov/hsp/fostercare-issues02/dynamics/index.htm.

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