• Ann Wrixon

Multiple Placements in Foster Care Leads to Poor Permanency Outcomes



Three studies on permanency outcomes for children adopted or placed in guardianship from the foster care system all found that multiple placements while in foster care was a risk factor for a disrupted adoption or guardianship placement. Each study found other risk and protective factors, but the one consistent finding was that multiple placements in foster care are not in the best interest of children.

The first study titled “Predicting re-involvement for children adopted out of a public child welfare system” by Rebecca Orsi and published in 2014 looked at the adjustment of more than 4,000 foster children who had been adopted in Colorado. In addition to multiple placements they also found that older children and Hispanic children predicted problems with adjustment after adoption. “Additional factors which predicted subsequent system re-involvement included presence of paid adoption assistance, adoption by a non-relative foster parent and younger adoptive parent age.” p. 175

The second study titled, “Factors affecting post-permanency adjustment for children in adoption or guardianship placements: An ecological systems analysis” by Minli Liao looked at both risk and protective factors for child adjustment after adoption. Risk factors not only included caring for a child with multiple foster care placements, but also caring for a child with special needs and adoptive parents with no parenting experience. “Protective factors include having adoption preparation and having a child living with married parents, as well as a high level of adoption openness and the availability of formal and informal social support.” p. 131.

The third study “Post-permanency discontinuity: A longitudinal examination of outcomes

for foster youth after adoption or guardianship” by Nancy Rolock and Kevin White also looked at both risk and protective factors for adoption and guardianship disruptions. This study is notable because it is both longitudinal, following the children for 10 years, and because the sample size was very large, slightly more than 57,000 foster children from Illinois. Positively, they found that 87% of the adoptions and guardianship arrangements did not disrupt. This study also found that multiple foster care placements was a risk factor for disruptions of adoptions and guardianships as was being African American. However, “children placed with siblings and children who spent three or more years in foster care had a lower hazard of discontinuity.” p. 419

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