Kids in TROUBLED homes still better off than in foster care, study finds -
smartmarriages at lists101.his.com
Sun Jul 15 10:28:35 EDT 2007
[I just realized that a bunch of articles I thought I sent to the list while
I was at Smart Marriages in Denver, didn't go. So much for my tech
abilities. Many are now old news but this one is important, so I'm
resending. It supports our efforts to help couples stay together and raise
their own kids - one to clip and use for your community marriage
strengthening efforts. Show it to state TANF officials as an argument for
spending money upstream to prevent family breakdown. - diane]
- KIDS IN TROUBLED HOMES STILL BETTER OFF THAN IN FOSTER CARE
Kids in troubled homes still better off than in foster care, study finds
Less likely to become delinquent or pregnant
By Wendy Koch
July 3, 2007
Children whose families are investigated for abuse or neglect are likely to
do better in life if they stay with their families than if they go into
foster care, according to a pioneering study.
The findings intensify a vigorous debate in child welfare: whether children
are better served with their families or away from them.
Kids who stayed with their families were less likely to become juvenile
delinquents or teen mothers and more likely to hold jobs as young adults,
says the study by Joseph Doyle, an economics professor at MIT's Sloan School
of Management who studies social policy.
"The size of the effects surprised me, because all the children come from
tough families," Doyle says. The National Science Foundation funded the
Doyle says his research, which tracked at least 15,000 kids from 1990 to
2002, is the largest study to look at the effects of foster care. He studied
kids in Illinois because of a database there that links abuse investigations
to other government records.
To avoid results attributable to family background, he screened out extreme
cases of abuse or neglect and studied kids whose cases could have gone
Studies, including those by Mark Courtney while at the University of
Chicago's Chapin Hall Center for Children, show that the 500,000 children in
U.S. foster care are more likely than other kids to drop out of school,
commit crimes, abuse drugs and become teen parents.
His research has shown that this holds true even when foster kids are
compared with other disadvantaged youth.
Doyle's study, however, provides "the first viable, empirical evidence" of
the benefits of keeping kids with their families, says Gary Stangler,
executive director of the Jim Casey Youth Opportunities Initiative, a
foundation for foster teens. Stangler says it looked at kids over a longer
period of time than had other studies.
"It confirms what experience and observation tell us: Kids who can remain in
their homes do better than in foster care," says Stangler. He says some
kids, for their own safety, need to be removed from their families, but in
marginal cases of abuse, more should be done to keep them together.
Smaller studies have found kids from abusive families do better in foster
care. "There are high rates of re-abuse" for those reunited with parents,
says Heather Taussig, a pediatrics professor at the University of Colorado
School of Medicine.
Taussig co-authored a study in 2001 that found kids reunited with families
after a brief stay in foster care were more likely to abuse drugs, get
arrested, drop out of school and have lower grades than those who stayed in
foster care. She followed 149 youths in San Diego over a six-year period.
Taussig says caseworkers shouldn't assume that keeping kids with relatives
"We need more research," she says.
Doyle says foster care remains a needed safety net for some kids but he
agrees that it merits further study.
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