Assessing the Context of Permanency and Reunification in the Foster Care System. 4. Findings

12/01/2001

What is the relationship between race and reunification? The data in Table 2 reveal that 34 percent of whites are reunified, compared to only nine percent of blacks. Thus, white children are four times more likely than black children to be reunified.

Table 2. 
Reunification By Race
 

White

Black

Total

Reunified

34%

9%

21%

Not Reunified 1

66%

91%

79%

Total Percent

100%

100%

100%

(Unweighted N)

(519) (371) (890)

(Weighted N)

(277,858)

(303,840)

(581,698)

p=.00* 
Not reunified includes children discharged for reasons other than reunification and those children who are still in care.


In order to identify the independent variables that were strong predictors of reunification, logistic regressions were run separately with single factors. The rankings of 15 variables by size of Rare presented in Table 3. Eleven variables have significant bivariate relationships with reunification: race, services provided to caretakers, age of entry, parental job skills, socioeconomic status (SES), parental employment status, parental substance abuse problem, child placed because of neglect, child placed because of abuse and parental education. These findings reveal that reunification rates were higher among caretakers: who received services, who had job skills, who had no substance abuse problem, who had completed high school, and who were currently working. However, white and older children had higher reunification rates than black and younger children. Yet, it should be noted that abuse and neglect had opposite relationships with reunification. Children placed for abuse were more likely to be reunified, while children placed for neglect were less likely to be reunified. On the other hand, four variables were not significantly related to reunification: child's disability, child's gender, if the parent was a single mother, and whether the child's parental household received AFDC. Thus, it was decided to drop these four variables from any further analysis.

 

Table 3. 
Single-Factor Predictors of Reunification

Predictors

Estimates P-level (100)R 2 F-values

Race (black=1)

-1.61

.00*

9.2%

22.98

No Caretaker Services

-1.36 .00* 6.4% 19.97

Age at Entry

.11 .00* 5.5% 24.81

Lack of Job Skills

-1.35 .00* 5.2% 23.22

Low SES

-1.27

.00*

4.9% 16.74

Not Employed

-.99

.00*

3.5% 11.60

Substance Abusers

-.91

.00*

3.2% 11.32

Neglect Allegations

-.98

.01*

2.7%

9.95

Abuse Allegations

.90

.00*

2.7%

9.95

Low Education

-.63

.03*

1.6%

5.01

Kin Caretaker

-.68 .03* 1.2% 5.14

Child Disability

-.15 .64 0.1% .23

Child Gender

-.09 .65 0.0% .21

Single Mom

.14

.48

0.0% .52

AFDC Recipient

.09 .73 0.0% .13

*Statistically significant relationships at p=< .05


To examine the possible presence of multicollinearity, a correlation matrix was run among nine variables that were significantly related to reunification. (Parental education and employment status were not included in the matrix, since they comprised the SES index.) The strongest correlations were found between substance abuse problems and SES (-.61), between abuse and neglect allegations(.53) and race and placement with kin (-.53). To minimize collinearity, abuse was excluded from the initial analyses of the best-fitting models for predicting reunification and neglect was retained. Despite the high correlations between kin placement and race, and SES and substance abuse problem, it was decided to retain them to assess their effects on the best-fitting models, since they were found to be important predictors of reunification in prior studies (see Table 4).

Table 4. 
Correlations of Estimates
  No Services Entry Age Lack Skills Sub Abuser Allegations With Kin Low  SES
Neglect Abuse  

Race

-.12 .38 .18 -.36 .19 .39 -.53 .01

No Services

  -.15 .21 .05 -.16 -.16 .05 .21

Age of Entry

    .11 .15 -.11 -.04 -.25 .08

Lack Job Skills

      .30 -.06 .23 -.14 -.28

Substance Abusers

        .04 .15 -.08 -.61

Neglect Allegations

          .53 .01 -.37

Abuse Allegations

            -.34 -.27

Kin Caretaker

              -.06