Assessing the Field of Post-Adoption Services: Family Needs, Program Models, and Evaluation Issues. Summary Report. 5.4.1 Substantive Findings

11/01/2002

Differences in data availability and structure between North Carolina and California limit our ability to assess the generalizability of our findings. Yet some clear similarities and differences have emerged. Almost all (94 percent) of the children adopted from foster care in North Carolina received cash assistance subsidy payments. The amount of the cash assistance payment remained unchanged for slightly more than half of the children (51 percent). For the rest there were gradual increases in the amount of cash payment that appear to occur as the child grows older.

Though inconclusive, these analyses suggest possible uses of administrative data for adoption research.

These stable subsidy amounts appear to differ from those in California, where only 17 percent of the children for whom we had data had never had a payment change. Many of these payment changes are routine subsidy increases  resulting from biannual recertification requirements  but there also appear to be fewer cases in which there are no changes. The probability of a payment change is associated with the prior number of payment changes. As prior payment changes occur, the rapidity of subsequent changes increases. Thus the number of payment changes provided could be used as a marker for outreach to families who may need additional guidance or assistance.

Relatively large subsidy increases in California are also associated with a few family characteristics  specifically, the childs age at the time of adoption and family income. Families at middle income levels are the most likely to obtain larger subsidy increases. Also, families that have more-educated mothers obtain larger subsidies. CLAS data suggest that subsidy increases are associated with the worsening of childrens behavior; we also see that they are strongly associated with parental characteristics. The equitability of adoption subsidy adjustments needs to be better understood.

Data in North Carolina support previous findings of low dissolution rates. Although the results suggest that the risk of adoption dissolution in North Carolina is lower than that seen elsewhere, further analyses show that the risk is greater for older children and for minority children compared with infants and white children in the state. We were unable to study disruption or displacement rates in North Carolina.

In California, we could study the transition from home to residential/group treatment for the relatively small proportion of children who used this option. Event history analysis indicates that age at placement, the number of prior payment changes, and  to a lesser extent  family income are associated with state-funded residential care.

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