Evaluation of Family Preservation and Reunification Programs: Final Report - Volume Two. 4.5.1 Substitute Care Placement Following Random Assignment

09/01/2002

Family preservation is believed to prevent unnecessary placement in substitute care. Prevention of placement is not as central an objective of family preservation in Philadelphia as in other locations, but it is, nonetheless, an outcome of interest. Table 4-17 provides data at the individual level for type of first placement after random assignment. (73) The administrative files contained subsequent placement data on 349 families, 205 in the experimental group and 144 families in the control group. Although the data were at the child level, the analyses are presented at the family level. (74)

Table 4-17
Type of First Placement After Random Assignment, Child Level
Philadelphia
Type N Percentage
Foster care, institution 98 42.1
Foster care, home 92 39.5
Emergency shelter 29 12.4
Foster care, group 14 6.0
Total 233 100

In the experimental group, 148 children in 65 families (32%) experienced placement subsequent to random assignment. In the control group, 85 children in 37 families (26%) experienced placement subsequent to random assignment. The differences were not statistically significant at the family level.

As in the other states, a simple comparison of overall percentages is not the most appropriate way to analyze these placement data. As families were randomly assigned at various points in time (between March 12, 1997 and June 23, 1999), the risk periods (amount of time eligible to experience placement) varied between families. The administrative data were collected on October 31, 2000 and therefore the minimum risk period was approximately sixteen months, and the maximum was more than 44 months. Hence, survival analyses were conducted to account for the varying risk periods.

Child level data were aggregated to the family level for the following survival analyses. The family level survival analyses were developed based on all 1,212 children in the administrative data. Families survived if no child experienced subsequent placement. For those families with subsequent placement, the first placement date of any child in that particular family was used to calculate the time interval between random assignment and first subsequent placement. If multiple children were removed from a single home, the date of first placement was selected.

The family level analysis of subsequent placement is displayed in Figure 4-1. The survival curves and Wilcoxon statistic indicate that the survival rates are not statistically different between the experimental and control groups. At the one year interval, 18 percent of experimental group families and 15 percent of control group families experienced substitute care placement in the primary analysis. (75) The survival analyses suggest that there were no differences between the rates of placement in the experimental and control groups. A summary of placement rates at various points in time following random assignment is shown in Table 4-18.

In addition to survival analyses, placement can be examined in terms of the proportion of time in substitute care subsequent to random assignment. The proportion is calculated by dividing the number of days in care by the number of days of possible care (number of days between random assignment and the date of administrative data collection). As the proportions are calculated at the family level, the number of days in care represents the total number of care days summed across all children within a particular family. Similarly, the number of possible care days represents the total number of possible care days summed across all children within a

Figure 4-1
First Placement after Random Assignment (Families)

Figure 4-1 First Placement after Random AssignmentFigure 4-1 First Placement after Random Assignment

Table 4-18
Summary of Philadelphia Placement Data, Survival Analyses Families Experiencing Placement of at Least One Child Within Specified Periods of Time
  1 month 6 months 12 months 18 months
C
%
E
%
C
%
E
%
C
%
E
%
C
%
E
%
Primary analysis 1 1 12 10 15 18 20 24
Secondary analysis 1 1 13 9 16 15 19 21
Note: C = Control Group, E = Experimental Group

particular family. The number of possible care days is adjusted for a child's eighteenth birthday. In the experimental group, children spent an average of 6 percent of the days subsequent to random assignment in care. In the control group, children spent an average of 4 percent of the days subsequent to random assignment in care. This difference is not statistically significant.

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