The experiences and outcomes of children in foster care who were removed because of a parental disability

Elizabeth Lightfoot, Sharyn DeZelar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations

Abstract

The purpose of this study is to examine the experiences and outcomes of children in the foster care system in the United States who were removed from their homes at least partially in relation to their parent's or caretaker's disability. This study uses administrative data from the 2012 year of the Adoption and Foster Care Reporting System (AFCARS), the federal reporting system that collects case-level data on all children in foster care through state and tribal IV-E agencies. While this administrative dataset doesn't collect data on parental disability, it does collect data on parental disability as a removal reason for children in foster care. In 2012, 19.0% of children in foster care had parental disability indicated as at least one removal reason, and 5.18% had parental disability indicated as their sole removal reason. Logistic regression was used to explore how a removal reason of parental disability correlated with removal manner, type of placement, location of placement, current case plans, discharge reasons and termination of parental rights. T-tests were used to compare children with and without parental disability as a removal reason in regards to number of placements, age at removal, length of time since last removal, length of stay in current placement, and total days in foster care. As foster children could have multiple removal reasons, analyses were conducted separately for children with parental disability as at least one removal reason, and those with parental disability as their sole removal reason. Findings indicate that children who have parental disability as a removal reason have different experiences in child welfare and different child welfare outcomes than those without parental disability as a removal reason. While the AFCARS removal reason of parental disability is not a proxy for parental disability, the study points to a need for closer attention to parental disability within the child welfare system to ensure appropriate services and supports, as well as fair treatment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)22-28
Number of pages7
JournalChildren and Youth Services Review
Volume62
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 1 2016
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Child protection
  • Children
  • Disabilities
  • Foster care
  • Outcomes
  • Parents with disabilities
  • Permanency
  • Termination of parental rights

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science

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