Assessing the Field of Post-Adoption Services: Family Needs, Program Models, and Evaluation Issues. Analysis of Secondary Data. 2.3.1 Data for Studying Dissolution

11/01/2002

Subsidy and foster care data were merged to identify dissolutions.

North Carolina enters information on adoption assistance payments into its payment databases but does not identify adopted children within its foster care files. However, by combining adoption subsidy and foster care placement data, we can establish a cohort of adopted children, who can then be studied like other cohorts to determine if they subsequently have a new placement. A voluntary placement may indicate a post-adoption services displacement episode rather than a dissolution. An involuntary placement would be more likely to be a dissolution than a displacement, although these involuntary placements could also be made  depending on the locally administered rules  for children of parents who retain legal custody of them. Termination of parental rights (TPR) of the adoptive parents would represent a less ambiguous indicator of dissolution, but this event was not available from the files available for analysis. Without integrating data on the legal relationship between parent and child, the differences between dissolutions and displacements are not possible to determine. Although UNC currently has been given limited access to use North Carolina foster care data for this exploratory effort, we have so far only requested permission from the state to use the foster care data and the subsidy data. We have not requested the use of the data collected during the processing of adoption cases, which includes substantially more information about the adoption circumstances. Exhibit 6 shows the key dissolution and displacement questions and the possibility of answering them with the data that we are likely to be able to access.

Exhibit 6.
Key Questions for Dissolution Analysis and Likely Data Access
Questions Comments
What percentage of adoptions has a subsequent spell in care? Although case ID numbers changed when an adoption was finalized, by linking these new ID numbers with the placement data files, we were able to determine whether children have entered care from an adoption  especially since the inception of the related AFCARS reporting requirements.
How many have a subsequent spell that is voluntary? A code in the NC data file can determine if new admissions are court mandated or voluntary, help determine the characteristics of a child's replacement into care following adoption, and distinguish between displacements and dissolutions.
What is the duration of elapsed time before this subsequent spell begins? If we can identify children who reenter care, then we can identify all the elements needed to conduct event history analysis.
What case characteristics (e.g., race and age at the time of adoption) are associated with a subsequent spell?
How do subsequent spells end (e.g., in reunification to the adoptive family, in no reunification, in a subsequent adoption)?

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