Crisis nursery effects on child placement after foster care

Author(s): Cole, S.A. and Hernandez, P.M. (2011)

Published In: Children and Youth Services Review, 33: 1445-1453

Study Aim/Purupse: This study investigated the effect of crisis nursery services on the length of stay infants and young children in foster care and other differences in placement outcomes when child welfare services were terminated.

Summary of Methods: of Using Illinois state program data, the study authors compared foster care length and placement outcomes for children leaving foster care whose families received crisis nursery support prior to the children’s placement in foster care to these outcomes for c hildren whose families who received foster care services but not crisis nursery services. The children in the two samples were identified by matching crisis nursery children’s data from State FY 2006 with the children’s data in Illinois Child Abuse an the d Neglect Tracking System and Children and Youth Services Information System databases. After children served by both the crisis nursery program and foster care services were identified, a comparison group of children with like characteristics whose familofies received only foster care services was identified used as the matching group for analysis. The children were followed until their out home placement was terminated or until June, 2009 whichever came first. Placement outc omes and length of stay were compared for the two groups.

Summary of Results: Using logistical regression analysis and controlling for such factors as child gender, ethnicity, age at placement, as well as type of abuse and country of residence, the study children whose f found that amilies received crisis nursery services prior to foster care placement were twice as likely to be reunited with their biological families (birth or extended family members) when compared to children whose families received only foster care services. The care was not statistically significant.

Limitations of Study: Because the study depended on data in the extant state databases, matching was only possible using the variables that were the same in both the Illino is Department of Children and Family Services databases. The authors note that other data on caregivers and child variables of interest, “such as the prenatal substance exposure of the infant, pre development data ” wer ematurity, substitute care, and not available and could expand our understanding of the study results.

Author’s Discussion/Conclusion: The study’s positive results indicate that families who receive crisis nursery services of any dosage may have a better chance of having their infan ts and young children returned to them. The authors suggest, however, that further study is needed to identify more discrete factors that explain this relationship.