Foster care, kinship care, and the transition to adulthood: Do child welfare system processes explain differences in outcomes?

Kierra M.P. Sattler, Toria Herd, Sarah A. Font

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Despite longstanding policy preferences favoring kinship care placements over non-relative family foster care placements, research findings on the benefits of kinship care vary by measurement, assessed outcome, follow-up period, and other study design elements. We examined early adulthood outcomes—incarceration and teen parenthood—among WI youth who entered foster care in early-to-middle childhood (ages 5–10). Results suggest that initial placement in kin or nonrelative kinship care was not significantly related to imprisonment or teenage parenthood directly; however, first placement in kinship care is associated with fewer moves, longer duration in care, and a higher probability of a new maltreatment investigation, which in turn is related to long-term outcomes. Further, a new maltreatment investigation was an important mediator and was significantly associated with a higher probability of incarceration and teenage parenthood. This study provides mechanisms on the ways in which first placement setting influences incarceration and teenage parenthood. Findings provide important policy and practice implications on how children's experiences in foster care, based on their initial placement type, can lead to maladaptive outcomes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number107098
JournalChildren and Youth Services Review
StatePublished - Oct 2023

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

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

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