• November 2005
  • Vol. 6, No. 9

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Characteristics of Families Approved to Foster or Adopt

A research study confirmed that families with many problems are less likely to be approved as foster or adoptive families, compared to families with fewer problems. The study also looked at family income, race, education, and supply and demand of foster and adoptive families to explore what characteristics are associated with a family who receives approval to care for foster children. In comparing characteristics of families who did and did not have a child placed with them, the following was found:

  • Families who had a child placed with them had fewer problems and higher incomes than families who did not have a child placed with them.
  • Income increased the probability of placement for families with many problems but not for families with few problems.
  • Race, education, and supply and demand of foster families were not related to placement.

Researchers studied 161 families who applied to a public agency to become adoptive or foster parents. Demographic data were supplied by the families, and researchers used standardized tests for psychosocial functioning to determine how many problems a family was experiencing. Over the 4 years of the study, 104 families (65 percent) were approved and had a child placed with them.

The authors of the study suggest that, in many ways, the results support the current selection process. While agency workers did not have access to the researchers’ data when they determined approval, the fact that families with many problems tended not to receive approval indicates that workers were able to discern some unsuitability issues with that group. The lack of impact for race, education, and supply/demand also suggests that the process already in place was relatively unbiased with respect to these factors.

The full article, "Parental and Familial Characteristics Used in the Selection of Foster Families," by J. G. Orme, C. Buehler, K. W. Rhodes, M. E. Cox, M. McSurdy, and G. Cuddeback has been accepted for publication by Children and Youth Services Review and is available for purchase: http://www.amazon.com/Parental-familial-characteristics-selection-families/dp/B000RR9BXS

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