Foster Care Placement Change: The Role of Family Dynamics andHousehold Composition

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Children and Youth Services Review

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Sibling co-placement and kinship care have each been shown to protect against the occurrence of placement change for youth in substitute care. However, little is known about the effects of different combinations of sibling placement and relative caregiver status on placement change. Nor does the field fully understand how family dynamics may differ in these households. Utilizing data from the Supporting Siblings in Foster Care study, this paper examines family dynamics across four typologies of living composition, and tests the effects of living composition membership on the odds of experiencing a placement change over an 18-month period of time. Findings suggest that across living composition typologies, children who were placed separately from their siblings in non-relative care were more likely to be older, have more extensive placement histories, and experience more placement changes both prior to and during the study than were children in other living composition groups. Family living composition was found to influence the occurrence of placement change. Specifically, children co-placed in kinship care were least likely to experience movement; however, sibling co-placement in non-relative care was also protective. Results reveal the need to conduct additional research into the experiences of children in different family living arrangements, and tailor case management services and supports to children in substitute care accordingly. Implications and future directions are discussed.



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