Methods: The current analysis utilized AFCARS Foster Care File 2017 data available through the National Data Archive on Child Abuse and Neglect (NDACAN). Reviewed cases were selected from Travis County, Texas (N=1,745). The dependent variable in this analysis was the length, in days, since coming into foster care and the key independent variable was the number of placements a child has had, both of which are continuous variables. The moderator tested is whether the child has ever been previously adopted (0= No, Not Applicable, Unable to Determine=0 and 1=Yes). Control variables were physical disability, emotional disturbance, gender, parents’ rights relinquished, intellectual disability, removal reason-neglect, ever adopted, and age. Hierarchical linear regression analysis with interaction terms was conducted using SPSS 25.
Results: The results of the hierarchical linear regression showed that the overall model was significant (F =196.76, p < .001). The number of days since latest removal was significantly associated with number of placements in current foster care episode (β = .553, p < .001). The variables in the model accounted for 52.8% of variance in the dependent variable. Specifically, number of placement settings in the current episode was significantly associated with the length (days) since latest removal (β = .563, p < .001). Having been previously adopted was also significant (β = -.103, p < .001) and the interaction between having been adopted and number of placement settings was also significant (β = -.060, p < .05).
Conclusions and Implications: Our findings indicate that higher number of placement settings was significantly associated with longer length (days) in foster care, and such association is stronger for a child who has been previously adopted. This affirms previous research that placement disruptions should be mitigated to the extent possible to reduce the number of days a child may stay in foster care. Additionally, special attention and support should be given to those youth who are returning to foster care after a previous adoption to mitigate the length of time they remain in care.