Project Title: The Effects of Foster Care Legislation on Exit Outcomes

Faculty Sponsor: Amelia Biehl

Department: Economics

Telephone: 810.336.6352


Project Description: Foster care is designed to be a temporary placement for children removed from the care of their biological families, many of whom have suffered abuse or neglect.  Children live in a foster care placement, which can be a home, group home, shelter, residential facility, or institution, while a state agency determines if they can be reunified with their biological parents.  If it is determined that children cannot be reunified with their birth parents, then they wait in foster care longer, until an adoptive family can be identified or the child ages out of the system.  Adoptive families are often difficult to find, resulting in some children languishing in foster care for most of their childhood.  State policies on foster care vary widely and new legislation is frequently passed.  We identify the effects of some recent changes in legislation on the length of time spent in foster care.  Using data from the Adoption and Foster Care Analysis and Reporting System and a difference-in-difference approach, we plan to estimate a proportional hazard model to identify the effects of state policies on the length of time children spend in foster care. We also plan to explore whether policies affect the type of exits (for example, adoption, reunification, or aging out) from foster care.   

Student Tasks & Responsibilities:  The student will be responsible for researching Title IV-E, which covers adoption subsidies, as well as finding out about other adoption subsidies, as they vary by state.  The student will also be responsible for researching state-specific goals and legislation regarding foster care (i.e. adoption, reunification, etc.).  I expect this research to take an entire year.  

Minimum Student Qualifications: Economics major in his/her senior year who has experience researching foster care.  

Proposed Starting Date: 10/15/2013

Proposed Ending Date: 10/15/2014