Session: Results from Prevention-Focused Outreach Efforts to Identify and Support Adoptive and Guardianship Families (Society for Social Work and Research 24th Annual Conference - Reducing Racial and Economic Inequality)

3 Results from Prevention-Focused Outreach Efforts to Identify and Support Adoptive and Guardianship Families

Thursday, January 16, 2020: 1:30 PM-3:00 PM
Marquis BR Salon 9, ML 2 (Marriott Marquis Washington DC)
Cluster: Child Welfare (CW)
Symposium Organizer:
Kevin White, PhD, East Carolina University
Nancy Rolock, PhD, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
Background and Purpose: The number of children living in federally IV-subsidized adoption or guardianship homes increased dramatically over the past 35 years, from about 11,600 in 1984 to 497,800 in 2017. The public child welfare system now subsidizes three children in adoptive/guardianship care for every child in foster care. Yet, post permanency services for adoptive and guardianship families are lacking, despite previous evidence which suggests that between 5-20% of families experience post adoption or guardianship instability. Further, a disproportionate number of these families endure wellbeing difficulties, including child behavior problems, poor family functioning, and diminished caregiver commitment. Racial and socioeconomic disparities endemic to the child welfare system potentially inhibit positive adjustment for families who adopt or assume guardianship of foster children from diverse backgrounds. Thus, more interventions are needed to support post adoption/guardianship children and families, especially those families most at risk for placement instability and poor wellbeing outcomes. The National Quality Improvement Center for Adoption and Guardianship Support and Assistance (QIC-AG) is evaluating the effectiveness of eight interventions across the U.S. with the purpose to promote permanence, when reunification is no longer a goal, and improve adoption and guardianship preservation and support.

Methods: This symposium focused on intervention data that helps us: 1) Understand the characteristics and needs of adoptive/guardianship caregivers, 2) Identify child and caregivers factors associated with family wellbeing, and 3) Examine the psychometric properties and usefulness of standardized scales and survey questions designed or adapted for post permanency families. The studies in this symposium used a range of quantitative methods, including exploratory and confirmatory factor analysis (to evaluate the factor structure of a scale), as well as bivariate and multivariate analyses of variables (e.g., t-tests, chi-square tests, ANOVA, OLS regression).

Results: Survey results provide evidence that specific characteristics of caregivers (e.g., female, biological relationship to the child) are associated with responding to outreach. Further, a younger child age and family factors (e.g., younger caregiver age and higher caregiver commitment) were associated with better scores on some standardized measures of wellbeing, such as the Protective Factors Survey. Findings also indicate that single-item survey questions showed strong associations with issues of family belonging and emotional security.

Conclusions and Implications: The symposium provides evidence that systematic outreach prevention efforts to identify and support post adoptive/guardianship families can reach a substantial proportion of those eligible for contact (i.e., about 40-70%, depending on the site). Practitioners and researchers may use certain standardized measures, such as the BEST or the BPI, or even short scales that assess caregiver commitment, to identify and target services to families who are most at risk for placement instability and poor wellbeing. However, results also support that post adoptive/guardianship families are diverse and face complex issues related to post-permanency adjustment, such differential outcomes based on race, child age at the time of permanence, caregiver age, and caregiver commitment that require further study with longitudinal and qualitative research designs to better ascertain how post adoptive and guardianship families' needs tend to change over time.

* noted as presenting author
Factors Associated with the Strengths and Needs of Adoptive and Guardianship Families
Kevin White, PhD, East Carolina University; Laura Marra, MSSW, University of Texas at Austin; Monica Faulkner, PhD, LMSW, University of Texas at Austin; Valerie Wood, PhD, University of Vermont; Nancy Rolock, PhD, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee; Rowena Fong, EdD, University of Texas at Austin
Evaluation of Belonging and Emotional Security Tool (BEST): A Confirmatory Factor Analysis (CFA) Approach
Young Cho, PhD, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee; Nancy Rolock, PhD, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee; Kevin White, PhD, East Carolina University
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