Foster youth with intellectual disabilities, permanency planning goals and case outcomes

Just gave a talk at the National Research Conference on Child and Family Programs and Policy on permanency planning and foster care outcomes for children with and without intellectual disabilities…someone snapped this photo, interesting to see what it looks like from the other side.  🙂

The promotion of speedy, permanent outcomes for foster children is a central child welfare policy goal, yet little is known about the ‘permanency planning’ goals or foster care outcomes of foster children with intellectual disability (ID) – a population known to be at higher risk for child abuse and neglect.

Comparative analyses of children with ID (N=17,714) and a comparison group without ID (N=655,536) from 46 states the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico were conducted through the use of data from the Adoption and Foster Care Reporting System (AFCARS) files. This cross-sectional, exploratory study used bivariate statistics and age/gender-adjusted odds ratios to explore between-group permanency outcomes.

Children with ID constituted 2.6 percent of youth in care. Only 2.5 percent of all foster children with ID (n=439) were reported to have experienced an adoption disruption. However, they were 1.4 times more likely to experience this reality when compared to foster children without ID. Children with ID were more likely to have a goal of adoption, emancipation (possibly for a cross-agency transfer) guardianship or long term foster care than were their counterparts. Foster children with ID were less likely to have a goal of returning to other relatives or of being reunified with their parents or other caregivers.

Implications relate to the need for disability and child welfare practitioners and policymakers to address potential disparities for children with ID in order to improve long-term outcomes for this vulnerable population.