Understanding Foster Parenting: Using Administrative Data to Explore Retention. Occupancy Rates


The mean occupancy rates were similar across the three states, between 1.5 and 1.6, as seen in Table 3-2. This rate suggests that the average home has between one and two foster children on a hypothetical day, although such homes may have no children for part of the year and several children at other times. In all states, the mean occupancy rate was substantially higher than the median, shown in the lower portion of Table 3-2. This distribution suggests that a relatively small group of foster parents have much higher occupancy rates, for example, 10 percent of homes in each state had an average of four children in the home during their first episode of foster parenting.

Table 3-2.
Occupancy Rate by Foster Home Characteristics
Characteristic Mean Occupancy Rate
New Mexico
(n = 662)
(n = 2,833)
(n = 11,947)
All foster homes 1.6 1.6 1.5
License type
Foster-adoptive 1.7 1.4
Regular foster care 1.6 1.4 1.6
Restricted foster care 1.8 1.3
Therapeutic foster care 1.7
At least one foster parent aged > 18 and < 30 years 1.6 1.6 1.5
All foster parents between 30 and 55 years 1.6 1.6 1.5
At least one foster parent over age 55 1.6 1.8 1.4
At least one foster parent Native American 1.7 1.6
At least one foster parent black 1.7 1.6
All foster parents white 1.6 1.4
Urban/Metropolitan 1.6 1.6 1.5
Rural/Nonmetropolitan 1.7 1.7 1.5
Foster home composition
Single parent 1.5 1.6 1.4
Two parents 1.7 1.6 1.5
Employment status
All foster parents work full time 1.4
One foster parent at home 1.5
All foster parents home full time 1.5
Foster home income
Less than or equal to median income for year 1.5
Greater than median income for year 1.4
Occupancy rate distribution
25th percentile 1.0 1.0 1.0
Median 1.3 1.2 1.0
75th percentile 2.0 2.0 2.0
90th percentile 4.1 4.2 4.2

The table shows several variations in occupancy among different types of foster homes, although feware large. In Oklahoma, the mean occupancy rate was higher for homes with restricted licenses than for other license types. In Oregon, the opposite pattern was seen: homes with restricted licenses had lower occupancy rates than did other types of homes.

Occupancy patterns varied across states for foster parent age and race. Occupancy rate was somewhat higher in Oklahoma for homes in which all foster parents were over age 55, but slightly lower for similar homes in Oregon. White foster parents in both Oklahoma and Oregon had lower occupancy rates than did Native American or black foster parents.

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