Society for Social Work and Research

Sixteenth Annual Conference Research That Makes A Difference: Advancing Practice and Shaping Public Policy
11-15 January 2012 I Grand Hyatt Washington I Washington, DC

24P Patterns of Adoption Service Needs and Service Use: Propensity Score Matching of Adoptive Families In Kinship Adoption and Non-Kinship Adoption

Friday, January 13, 2012
Independence F - I (Grand Hyatt Washington)
* noted as presenting author
Minli Liao, MA, Doctoral Student, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Urbana, IL
Background and Purpose: Families adopting children from public foster care encounter lifelong challenges, difficulties, and struggles (Barth & Miller, 2000; Dhami, Mandel, & Sothmann, 2007). Existing studies consistently indicates post-adoptive families express a wide variety of formal service needs and informal service needs; however, research also shows the usage rate of these services is lower than we might expect (Brooks, Allen, & Barth, 2002; Festinger, 2006). Given that little is known about the reason for low service usage rate, it is essential to explore the patterns of adoption service needs and service use among different types of adoption. This study aims to explore the patterns of caregivers' perceived service needs and use between kinship adoption and non-kinship adoption.

Methods: Data for the study comes from the 2008 Post-Permanency Project collected eight years after the adoption finalization in Illinois. Kinship caregivers (n=370) and non-kinship caregivers (n=77) were assessed concerning how the family and children fared since the adoption/guardianship was finalized. Propensity Score Matching (PSM) in Stata 10.1 with Greedy matching (caliper=.25) was used to balance mean differences in the characteristics of children and families in kinship and non-kinship adoption. After matching, the previous significant differences in the child's age, permanency type, caregivers' age, caregivers' gender, education, and household between the two groups diminish. Multivariate post-matching analysis was applied to the matched sample of 114 families. It is hypothesized that kin caregivers express more service needs, face more unmet needs, and have less social support than non-kin caregivers.

Results: Post-matching analysis indicated that kin caregivers expressed a lower number of service needs than non-kin group (t=1.46, p=.05). Kin caregivers expressed fewer clinical service needs than non-kin caregivers (OR=.5, p=.05), but showed no differences in needs for health and general services. Surprisingly, kin caregivers were less likely to inform adoption agencies of any service needs than the non-kin group (OR=.2, p<.05), though there was no significant difference between the two groups in trying to obtain their unmet service needs. Additionally, kin caregivers tended to have a decreased likelihood of successfully obtaining those services they tried to get compared to the non-kin group (OR=.36, p<.05). After controlling for marital status, level of education, and SES, kin adoptive parents had a significantly lower amount of social support than non-kin adoptive families (t=2.37, p<.05).

Conclusions and Implications: Previous research shows that the adoption services had a low use rate without any differentiation among various types of adoption. This study adds to the knowledge by disentangling the service needs and use between kin and non-kin adoption by comparing two statistically equivalent groups. The findings indicate that kin caregivers are less aware of service needs, have less motivation to seek professional help, and are less likely to obtain services if they seek them out than non-kin caregivers. Given that less social support is available to the kinship adoptive families; adoptive services should be made more accessible to the kin caregivers. Designing and delivering more active outreach service might be effective to enhance the service use rate.