Understanding Adoption Subsidies: An Analysis of AFCARS Data. Discussion


The multivariate models confirm the importance of state-level practice variations in determining both subsidy receipt and amount. These differences persist even after controlling for variations in the characteristics of adopted children and adoptive families. Children in states where the time to adoption was longer were more likely to receive subsidies, and to receive higher subsidies. Children in states with higher federal matching rates received lower subsidies.

Even after controlling for state-practice variations, several child characteristics were associated with subsidy decisions. Based on odds ratios calculated from logit results, each additional year of age increases the odds of a child receiving a subsidy by 7.8 percent. Among children who received a subsidy, each additional year of age was related to an increase of $12.53 per month. Adopted boys are no more likely to receive a subsidy than adopted girls, but among children receiving a subsidy, boys receive slightly higher subsidies. Child race and ethnicity were not significant determinants of subsidy receipt or amount.

Characteristics of adoptive families also influenced subsidies. After controlling for state-level variation, neither race nor ethnicity was associated with subsidy receipt; however, among children receiving subsidies, those adopted by Hispanic mothers received, on average $45 less than did children adopted by white, non-Hispanic mothers. Children adopted by non-relatives (other than foster parents) were less likely to receive subsidies. Children adopted from foster care by relatives received subsidies that were, on average, $93 per month less than those adopted by foster parents. Children adopted by single females received higher subsidies than those adopted by married couples. While the latter finding could be based on greater material needs within single-parent families, other associations between family characteristics and subsidies suggest the impact of variations among adoptive parents in their ability to advocate for subsidies. In particular, the lower subsidy amount for children adopted by relatives would seem to be at odds with the current goal of encouraging such adoptions.

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