Understanding Foster Parenting: Using Administrative Data to Explore Retention. Types of Children Cared For

01/01/2005

To examine the relationship between characteristics of foster parents and the children cared for, the study team examined the percentage of homes that cared for at least one infant, at least one adolescent, and at least one child with special needs. These analyses were conducted in order to assess whether length of service was influenced by the types of children cared for in the foster home. Patterns varied across states for each type of placement. These variations may reflect variations in the foster care caseload across states, as well as the ways in which states use their foster home resources. The following discussion highlights only the very few consistent patterns seen for each type of placement.

Table 3-4 shows substantial variations among states in care for infants by homes with different types of licenses. For all states, two-parent homes were more likely to care for infants than single-parent homes. Some consistencies are seen for Oklahoma and Oregon. In these two states, homes with regular foster care licenses were nearly four times more likely to have cared for infants than homes with restricted non-relative licenses. Homes with younger foster parents, and those in rural or nonmetropolitan locations, were more likely care for infants. New Mexico had very different patterns for license type and age.

Table 3-4.
Percent of Homes Caring for at Least One Infant, by Foster Home Characteristics
Characteristic Percent of Homes Caring for at Least One Infant
New Mexico
(n = 662)
Oklahoma
(n = 2,833)
Oregon
(n = 11,947)
All foster homes 29.2 34.6 19.6
License type
Foster-adoptive 36.4 21.9
Regular foster care 23.6 44.9 28.6
Restricted foster care 11.3 7.9
Therapeutic foster care 32.0
Age
At least one foster parent aged > 18 and < 30 years 28.8 42.4 24.4
All foster parents between 30 and 55 years 30.3 33.9 18.9
At least one foster parent over age 55 27.6 28.6 16.0
Race
At least one foster parent Native American 40.8 21.4
At least one foster parent black 29.4 13.6
All foster parents white 35.4 20.1
Location
Urban/Metropolitan 33.9 33.9 18.0
Rural/Nonmetropolitan 27.7 35.3 22.9
Foster home composition
Single parent 22.4 29.1 12.8
Two parents 32.1 36.7 22.1
Employment status
All foster parents work full time 15.0
One foster parent at home 25.5
All foster parents home full time 21.7
Foster home income
Less than or equal to median income for year 21.3
Greater than median income for year 21.2

Table 3-5 shows that although the percentage of homes caring for at least one adolescent was similar across states, the characteristics of these homes varied across states. Across all states, two-parent homes were more likely to care for adolescents than single-parent homes. In both Oklahoma and Oregon, homes with restricted licenses and those with older foster parents were most likely to have cared for adolescents. In both New Mexico and Oregon, homes with foster-adopt licenses were the least likely to have cared for adolescents, suggesting the challenges of finding future adoptive homes for these children.

Table 3-5.
Percent of Homes Caring for at Least One Adolescent, by Foster Home Characteristics
Characteristic Percent of Homes Caring for at Least One Adolescent
New Mexico
(n=662)
Oklahoma
(n=2,833)
Oregon
(n=11,947)
All foster homes 43.8 42.5 42.7
License type
Foster-adoptive 31.6 7.8
Regular foster care 45.6 38.3 42.3
Restricted foster care 52.1 50.6
Therapeutic foster care 59.8
Age
At least one foster parent aged > 18 and < 30 years 50.9 31.8 37.5
All foster parents between 30 and 55 years 39.9 44.0 43.5
At least one foster parent over age 55 53.5 49.2 46.7
Race
At least one foster parent Native American 48.5 35.1
At least one foster parent black 40.4 50.7
All foster parents white 42.3 42.0
Location
Urban/Metropolitan 35.8 35.9 42.8
Rural/Nonmetropolitan 48.2 49.0 42.5
Foster home composition
Single parent 48.7 44.7 52.7
Two parents 41.4 41.7 39.0
Employment status
All foster parents work full time 45.0
One foster parent at home 38.8
All foster parents home full time 51.0
Foster home income
Less than or equal to median income for year 44.5
Greater than median income for year 38.1

Table 3-6 shows contrasting patterns in care for children with special needs in New Mexico and Oklahoma, the two states for which these data are available. In New Mexico, the homes most likely to have cared for at least one child with special needs are those in which foster parents are between ages 30 and 55, and those in urban counties. In Oklahoma, children with special needs are more likely to have been cared for in homes with older foster parents, and those in which at least one foster parent is Native American. For both states, homes with regular foster care licenses and those with twoparents are more likely to have cared for these children.

Table 3-6.
Percent of Homes Caring for at Least One Child with Special Needs, by Foster Home Characteristics
Characteristic Percent of Homes Caring for at Least One Child with Special Needs
New Mexico
(n = 662)
Oklahoma
(n = 2,833)
All foster homes 36.1 44.8
License type
Foster-adoptive 45.5
Regular foster care 23.0 50.4
Restricted foster care 32.3
Therapeutic foster care 55.7
Age
At least one foster parent aged > 18 and < 30 years 32.2 44.8
All foster parents between 30 and 55 years 36.9 43.7
At least one foster parent over age 55 27.6 51.0
Race
At least one foster parent Native American 52.4
At least one foster parent black 44.6
All foster parents white 44.0
Location
Urban/Metropolitan 37.1 41.9
Rural/Nonmetropolitan 34.4 47.7
Foster home composition
Single parent 34.2 41.9
Two parents 36.8 46.0

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