Methods: QIC-AG survey data were obtained from NC (n=35) and TN (n=54). The survey in NC was available to all adoptive and guardianship families in one county, and the survey in TN was administered to families in need of intensive support services. In both surveys, validated scales such as the Behavior Problem Index (BPI) and Belonging and Emotional Security Tool (BEST) were included, as well as questions related to child education, out-of-home care, caregiver commitment, and local services available to families. Univariate and bivariate statistical analyses were first conducted to characterize and compare post-permanency families at each site. Then, multivariable regression models were also estimated to explore the relationship between intensive service needs and BPI and BEST scores while controlling for child demographic characteristics.
Results:Consistent with previous literature, results showed that most adoptive and guardianship caregivers report no significant difficulties after adoption or guardianship. However, caregivers at the TN site reported markedly worse BPI and BEST scores than caregivers in NC. Also, a substantial minority of respondents in TN reported negative responses to questions that asked whether they would recommend adoption or guardianship, whether they could meet children’s needs, the impact of the child, and how often they thought about ending the adoption or guardianship.
Conclusions/Implications: This study has implications for child welfare practice and policy related to children who exit foster care to legally permanent adoption or guardianship. Although the majority of families show positive adjustment after permanency, a significant proportion do experience substantial difficulties, and those who reach out to child welfare agencies for support may be at higher risk for placement discontinuity. This study also has implications for post-permanency intervention research, in that, results provide some explanation for the low survey response rates that are typical of post-permanency research. Findings suggest that interventions should be developed to support families with particular characteristics, such as those with adolescents or those who reach out to the child welfare agency for help, before they reach the point of crisis.