In case the bad news on Rhode Island’s foster care system wasn’t enough, here’s some bad news on the foster care system in Illinois — a larger, longer-term study that may have broader implications. From USA Today:
Children whose families are investigated for abuse or neglect are likely to do better in life if they stay with their families than if they go into foster care, according to a pioneering study.
The findings intensify a vigorous debate in child welfare: whether children are better served with their families or away from them.
Kids who stayed with their families were less likely to become juvenile delinquents or teen mothers and more likely to hold jobs as young adults, says the study by Joseph Doyle, an economics professor at MIT’s Sloan School of Management who studies social policy.
“The size of the effects surprised me, because all the children come from tough families,” Doyle says. The National Science Foundation funded the study.
Doyle says his research, which tracked at least 15,000 kids from 1990 to 2002, is the largest study to look at the effects of foster care. He studied kids in Illinois because of a database there that links abuse investigations to other government records. [full text]
The news on trends in helping children is not all bad, though, as evidenced by this related story about how the number of single men adopting foster children has increased by 40%.