FCT is a home-based, family-centered approach for family preservation. FCT implementation in Indiana was a part of their 2012 Title IV-E Wavier Demonstration and was implemented statewide in September 2013. This effectiveness study includes the newly opened cases for families enrolled in FCT from January 1, 2015 until December 31, 2015.
Propensity-score matching (PSM) was used to match children receiving FCT with children not receiving FCT. PSM uses matching characteristics identified to determine the probability of receiving FCT. PSM finds the child not receiving FCT that has a similar probability, using the same matching characteristics, as the child who received FCT. Once probabilities are matched, a dataset of probability-matched children who received FCT and those that did not is created.
Overall, 20,779 children were in care between January 1, 2015 and December 31, 2015. There were 230 children that received FCT and were not involved with juvenile detention. Using the matching characteristics of age, gender, race, county, number of focus children, involvement status, CANS score, and risk score we were able to obtain a sufficient number of pairs to conduct analysis. The final dataset included 187 children receiving FCT and 187 children not receiving FCT.
Children who did and did not receive FCT were similar across all demographic variables, with no significant differences between them on gender, race, age, and number of focus children in the family. Children who did and did not receive FCT were evenly male (49.2% and 50.2%, respectively) and female (49.73% and 49.2%, respectively) and predominantly white (89.3% and 86.63%, respectively).
Children participating in FCT had a higher rate of being rated as safe (35.71% vs. 28.49%, p < .001) and conditionally safe (39.56% vs. 27.93%, p < .001), and a lower rate of being rated as unsafe (24.73% vs. 43.58%, p < .001) than children not participating in FCT. Children participating in FCT were more likely to remain in home throughout their involvement with child services and had a fewer amount of days on average until reunification than those not participating in FCT (341 vs. 417, p < .05) and (55.61% vs. 39.04%, p < .001). Additionally, their family functioning score on the CANS climbed at a statistically significantly higher rate than children not in FCT over time.
The total cost of the case for those in FCT was significantly higher for children in FCT than children not in FCT ($19,673 vs. $17,719, p < .05), but the cost per child was not statistically significant ($10,277 vs. $6,481, respectively).
Implications and Conclusions
Overall, those participating in FCT appear to fare better than those not participating in FCT. While the cost of administering FCT is higher for children participating in FCT, children in FCT have better outcomes associated with their safety, permanency goals, and well-being. Children in FCT were more likely to remain in-home during their involvement with child services, as well as be reunited with their family in shorter time frame and more likely to be ranked as safe.