Assessing the Context of Permanency and Reunification in the Foster Care System. 2.3 Cross-Sectional Picture of Exit Change: 1990 and 1994

12/01/2001

Table IIB.3 provides a different vantage of this pattern of change by comparing the exit experiences of two entry cohorts (1990 and 1994) in each state.

The first and second panels present descriptive statistics for each of the two entry cohorts. Note that the exit proportions here are computed as a share of all entrants in the cohort (in contrast to Table IIA.I where they were presented as a proportion of all exits). The third panel looks at the proportional shift that occurred in each of these measures between 1990 and 1994. The intent is to identify changes that occurred during the four years that separate these two cohorts, and interpret them as potential indicators of trends. The final panel lists arithmetic changes between 1990 and 1994.7

On the third panel (proportional changes, 1990-1994), we see first that the number of entries to foster care spells grew by a total of 23 percent during this four year period. Rapid growth in entries was observed in Illinois (101%), Maryland, Missouri, and Wisconsin. In contrast, Alabama and New York showed a decrease in entries during these four years. A quick comparison between the change in entries, the incidence rate of entry (from panels 1 and 2), and the reunification levels (as observed in the previous section) suggests that there is no evidence of a direct link between these three characteristics of state child welfare systems.

The third panel also contains rows presenting changes in the proportion of entrants that exited within three years ¾ first for all exits and then detailed separately as reunification, adoption, or relative exits. For all states combined, the proportion of entrants that exited care within three years decreased by 5 percent between 1990 and 1994. During the same time, reunification exits decreased by 10 percent, adoption exits by 4 percent and exits to relatives by 13 percent. In eight of the nine states described, we observe decreases in both the proportion of entrants who were reunified and the proportion of exits that were achieved through reunification. The sole exception, Wisconsin, showed a 1 percent increase in the proportion of entrants reunified, and a 2 percent increase in the proportion of exits that were made by reunification.

Table IIB.3
Exit and Reunification from Foster Care: State Summary Table
  State Pooled Total
AL CA IL MD MI MO NM NY WI

1990 Entrants

N entrants to Foster Care 2,004 26,550 7,662 2,454 5,776 3,780 1,068 20,586 4,282 74,162
Incidence Rate of Entry 1.86 2.99 2.43 1.91 2.28 2.71 2.13 4.53 3.19 3.00
Prop. Entrants who Exit in 3 years 0.88 0.70 0.57 0.73 0.82 0.82 0.90 0.66 0.82 0.71
Prop. by Reunification 0.28 0.52 0.38 0.36 0.47 0.46 0.58 0.41 0.57 0.46
Prop. by Adoption 0.03 0.05 0.05 0.08 0.11 0.08 0.03 0.02 0.03 0.05
Prop. to Relatives 0.25 0.02 0.00 0.16 0.09 0.03 0.10 0.08 0.06 0.06
Prop Reunification | Exit (proportion of exits that are by reunification) 0.32 0.74 0.67 0.50 0.57 0.56 0.64 0.63 0.69 0.65

1994 Entrants

N entrants to Foster Care 1,713 33,084 15,373 3,364 7,067 5,020 1,154 17,909 6,373 91,057
Incidence Rate of Entry 1.59 3.73 4.87 2.62 2.79 3.60 2.30 3.94 4.75 3.69
Prop. Entrants who Exit in 3 years 0.83 0.67 0.42 0.67 0.84 0.78 0.87 0.73 0.81 0.67
Prop. by Reunification 0.24 0.49 0.24 0.33 0.42 0.43 0.55 0.38 0.57 0.42
Prop. by Adoption 0.02 0.04 0.03 0.05 0.13 0.06 0.06 0.03 0.03 0.04
Prop. to Relatives 0.29 0.01 0.01 0.17 0.09 0.04 0.08 0.08 0.05 0.05
Prop Reunification | Exit 0.29 0.73 0.58 0.49 0.50 0.56 0.63 0.53 0.71 0.62

Proportional Change 1990 to 1994 Entrants

N entrants to Foster Care -0.15 0.25 1.01 0.37 0.22 0.33 0.08 -0.13 0.49 0.23
Incidence Rate of Entry -0.15 0.25 1.01 0.37 0.22 0.33 0.08 -0.13 0.49 0.23
Prop. Entrants who Exit in 3 years -0.05 -0.04 -0.27 -0.07 0.03 -0.05 -0.03 0.10 -0.01 -0.05
Prop. by Reunification -0.15 -0.05 -0.38 -0.09 -0.09 -0.06 -0.05 -0.07 0.01 -0.10
Prop. by Adoption -0.51 -0.17 -0.39 -0.35 0.14 -0.19 0.90 0.58 -0.09 -0.04
Prop. to Relatives 0.17 -0.33 NA 0.10 -0.02 0.31 -0.26 -0.00 -0.12 -0.13
Prop Reunification | Exit -0.10 -0.01 -0.14 -0.02 -0.12 -0.01 -0.02 -0.16 0.02 -0.06

Arithmetic Change 1990 to 1994 Entrants

N entrants to Foster Care -291 6,534 7,711 910 1,291 1,240 86 -2,677 2,091 16,895
Incidence Rate of Entry -0.27 0.74 2.44 0.71 0.51 0.89 0.17 -0.59 1.56 0.68
Prop. Entrants who Exit in 3 years -0.05 -0.03 -0.15 -0.05 0.03 -0.04 -0.03 0.07 -0.01 -0.03
Prop. by Reunification -0.04 -0.03 -0.14 -0.03 -0.04 -0.03 -0.03 -0.03 0.01 -0.05
Prop. by Adoption -0.02 -0.01 -0.02 -0.03 0.02 -0.01 0.03 0.01 -0.00 -0.00
Prop. to Relatives 0.04 -0.01 0.01 0.02 -0.00 0.01 -0.03 -0.00 -0.01 -0.01
Prop Reunification | Exit -0.03 -0.01 -0.10 -0.01 -0.07 -0.01 -0.01 -0.10 0.02

0.04


7.  Each cell in the third panel is produced by dividing the 1994 number by the 1990 number, and subtracting 1 from the result. Each cell in the fourth panel is obtained by subtracting the 1990 number from the 1994 number. The third panel is the focus of analysis. The fourth panel is to remind us that certain large proportional changes can result from small numbers.