Issue Papers on Foster Care and Adoption


During 2001 and 2002, several data analyses on foster care and adoption issues were conducted for ASPE based on the Multi-State Foster Care Data Archive maintained by the Chapin Hall Center for Children at the University of Chicago. The following papers are available in this series:

  1. Foster Care Dynamics in Urban and Non-Urban Counties (February 2002) This paper examines differences between large urban areas, smaller urban areas and non-urban areas in their use of foster care. It looks at placement rates, child demographic characteristics and childrens placement histories to understand how childrens needs and program operations interact to produce differences in foster care experiences. The analysis finds that child welfare systems in large urban areas show very different patterns of foster care utilization than do other urban areas. These other urban areas look more like non-urban areas in their service provision patterns. In addition, the foster care placement of large numbers of African American infants seems to be the primary feature distinguishing care patterns in large urban foster care programs from those observed elsewhere.
  2. Growth in the Adoption Population (March 2002) This paper explores the possible impact of recent federal policy changes on the future size of the adoption population  that is, children adopted from foster care. Results are presented from a simulation model that uses data from Chapin Halls Multistate Foster Care Data Archive to project the size of the adoption population and the number of children in foster care for the next 20 years. In particular, the sensitivity of the projected size of the adoption population to changes in adoption rates and the number of children entering foster care in the future is examined. The analysis shows that in the next few years, most likely between 2004 and 2006, the number of children receiving adoption assistance will exceed the number of children in foster care. Further, the adoption population will continue to be larger than the foster care population well into the future, unless there are unusually dramatic changes in the number of foster care admissions.
  3. Adoption Dynamics: The Impact of the Adoption and Safe Families Act (August 2002) Using data from the Multistate Foster Care Data Archive, this study looks at what effects, if any, the Adoption and Safe Families Act (ASFA) has had on the proportion of children admitted to foster care who were later adopted and the time needed to complete those adoptions. The analyses support four main conclusions: (1) it is too soon to say whether ASFA had an impact on the likelihood of adoption; (2) time to adoption has sped up in recent years, a trend that began pre-ASFA and continued post-ASFA; and (3) evidence available thus far suggests that the time to reunification has slowed since ASFA.
  4. Adoption Dynamics: Comparative Results for Subpopulations (November 2002) Using data from the Multistate Foster Care Data Archive, this study examines whether, as the pace of adoptions accelerated during the 1990s, certain demographic subpopulations experienced more change than others. The interest in subgroups reflects a desire to better understand differences that define the experiences of children within the foster care system. The analysis finds that (1) all subgroups reflected an increased likelihood of adoption per unit time; (2) children from urban areas, African-American children, and children living in kinship homes experienced the greatest increases in the likelihood of adoption; and (3) African-American children from urban areas living in kinship homes showed the most significant change of all, although these children continue to move more slowly to adoption than other children.

How to Obtain Printed Copies

To obtain printed copies of these reports, send or fax the title and your mailing information to:

Human Services Policy, Room 404E Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation U.S. Department of Health and Human Services 200 Independence Av, SW Washington, DC 20201

Fax: (202) 690-6562