Evaluation of the New York City Home Rebuilders Demonstration. 3.1.2 Outcomes from the Administrative Data

09/14/1998

The rapid achievement of permanency and reduction in days in care were central objectives of the HomeRebuilders program. Two measures were examined: the percentage of children whose cases were closed and the number of days in care subsequent to July 1, 1993. Obviously, these are highly associated measures. The first of these measures concerns the first time cases were closed following July 1, 1993. The primary reasons for case closing were return home and adoption, although a few cases were closed for other reasons, for example, when the child aged out of the system. The number of days in care takes into account all placements subsequent to July 1, 1993, but subtracts days in which the child was on trial discharge or otherwise absent from the foster care placement. The intent of this measure is to capture the number of days of paid foster care. It can be used as a rough indication of the costs of foster care for a child.

The status of cases may be examined at various points in time. In the following, we examine status at various points following the beginning of the experiment up to April 1997, the last date for which we have data. Outcomes were examined only within agencies. In most of the analyses, there is considerable variation among agencies so that combining across agencies would not be meaningful, since it would obscure the between agency variations. In OTT and NYF, cases were not randomly assigned, so comparisons between the experimental and comparison groups and the significance levels of those comparisons are less meaningful. In JC there was no comparison group.

Percentages of Cases Closed.  Table 3-8 shows the status of children at two points in time, December 31, 1995, when the experiment was ended and April 1997. As can be seen, there is considerable variation among the agencies and comparison groups. By December 1995, in most of the groups fewer than 50 percent of the cases were closed. By April 1997, this figure had increased but varied considerably among the groups, from 44 percent in the HD experimental group to 78 percent in JC. As to comparisons between experimental and control groups, in LF the experimental group had closed significantly more cases than the control group by December 1995 (p < .001). By April 1997 the difference had narrowed somewhat (p = .06). In MM, the control group had closed more cases than the experimental group by December 1995 (p = .03); proportions of closed cases by April 1997 were very close. In HD, the difference between the experimental and control groups in December 1995 was not significant, but by April 1997 the control group had closed more cases (p = .02). As to the nonexperimental agencies, in OTT differences were not significant at either point in time while in NYF, the experimental group had closed significantly more cases at both points in time (both differences,

p < .001). In JC the proportion of closed cases was relatively high, but it is difficult to know what to make of this, given the lack of a comparison group in that agency.

Table 3-8.  Status of Children (percents)
at 12/31/95

  HD LF MM OTT JC NYF Total
  C E C E C E C E E C E  
Closed cases
Ret. Home
12 15 25 39 18 25 30 31 16 9 16 21
Adoption 25 16 5 2 22 9 5 13 31 25 34 19
Other 3 6 3 11 5 1 6 2 10 5 6 5
Total Closed 41 37 34 52 45 35 41 46 57 39 56 45
Still in Foster Care 59 63 66*** 48*** 55* 65* 59 54 43 61*** 44*** 55
Total % 100% 100% 100% 100% 100% 100% 100% 100% 100% 100% 100% 100%
Total N (177) (185) (274) (298) (187) (213) (203) (196) (481) (394) (377) (2985)

Note:  Significant differences between experimental and control groups in percent closed are indicated by symbols attached to the compared percentages:  # = p < .1; * = p < .05; *** = p < .001.

 

at 4/30/97

  HD LF MM OTT JC NYF Total
  C E C E C E C E E C E  
Closed cases
Ret. Home
13 16 31 44 22 31 34 35 19 10 18 24
Adoption 37 22 17 5 22 15 18 24 47 39 51 30
Other 6 6 5 12 6 2 6 2 12 6 7 7
Total Closed 56 44 54 61 51 49 59 61 78 55 75 61
Still in Foster Care 44* 56* 46# 39# 49 51 41 39 22 45*** 25*** 39
Total % 100% 100% 100% 100% 100% 100% 100% 100% 100% 100% 100% 100%
Total N (178) (185) (274) (298) (188) (213) (203) (196) (481) (394) (377) (2987)

Note:  Significant differences between experimental and control groups in percent closed are indicated by symbols attached to the compared percentages: # = p < .1; * = p < .05; *** = p < .001.

Of interest is the relatively low proportion of children in the experimental group who were returned home. The group with the highest proportion of children returned home was the LF experimental group, 39 percent by December 1995 and 44 percent by April 1997. Agencies varied considerably in the extent to which they used return home, and conversely, adoption, as routes to case closing. Particularly interesting is a comparison of LF and NYF, two agencies in which the experimental group closed significantly more cases than the comparison group. LF returned more children home and used adoption much less than NYF. Reasons for closing as percentages of all cases closed can also be examined. (see Appendix Table B-6). Except in OTT, as a proportion of closed cases, the experimental groups had fewer adoptions and more returns home than the comparison groups.

Figure 3-1

 

Figure 3-1 provides more detail on percentages of cases closed over time. The graphs indicate the widening and then narrowing of the differences between the experimental and control groups in LF. In NYF the increasing difference between the groups is evident, with the experimental group closing ever more cases over time. Of interest is what happens to these graphs following the end of the program. In the LF experimental group the graph flattens after that point, so that the difference between experimental and control groups narrows. In HD, the experimental group graph also flattens while the control graph continues to rise, leading to greater differences between the groups. The flattening of the graphs for the experimental groups might reflect the withdrawal of the fiscal incentives of the program, but these dynamics are not seen in the other experimental groups.

Days in Care.  Table 3-9 shows the average days in care for children in the experiment at the end of 1995 and by April 1997. The results are similar to those in the analysis of closed cases in that the experimental groups in LF and NYF have significantly lower levels of care days than the comparison groups at both points in time. At the end of the project in December 1995, the LF experimental group had 13 percent fewer days in care than the control group and the NYF experimental group had 7 percent fewer days in care. By April 1997, the LF experimental group had 15 percent fewer days in care than the control group and the NYF experimental group had 14 percent fewer days in care. In this analysis, in no agency does the comparison group have significantly lower days in care than the experimental group at either point. Also consistent with the case closing analysis, JC had relatively low levels of average care days.

Table 3-9.  Mean days in care by agency and experimental group

  Mean Days in Care
To 12/31/95 To 4/30/97
C E p C E p
HD 753 745 .75 1004 1023 .67
LF 735 641 .001 1004 851 .001
MM 727 731 .89 979 1029 .29
OTT 648 670 .49 870 904 .50
JC B 647 -- -- 787 --
NYF 733 682 .009 974 834 .001

 

Figure 3-2

 

Figure 3-2 displays number of care days at several points in time. In HD, MM, and OTT, the curves for the experimental and comparison groups are remarkably similar, while the lower days in care in the experimental groups in LF and NYF is evident.

It is of interest to examine lengths of time in care for differing outcomes, in particular, for adoption versus other outcomes. Considering only those cases that closed by April 1997, as would be expected, time in care was considerably higher for children that were adopted.

For all cases that were closed, the total length of time in care was 60 percent higher for adopted children. The differences in LF between experimental and control groups in lengths of time in care may be due in part to the much lower number of adoptions in the LF experimental group. However, it must be noted that NYF, with a significant difference between experimental and comparison groups in days in care, had a large number of adoptions overall and little difference between experimental and comparison groups in proportions of closed cases that were adoptions (67% vs. 70%).

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