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Cutting-Edge Statistical Models

Across research areas, the Data Center works to bring the cutting-edge of social science to the study of child welfare systems. With a focus on both the individual and contextual influences on children, families, and communities, we’re developing the scientific instruments needed to find out what works for whom, under what circumstances, and why.

Selected projects:

Within and Between State Variation in the Use of Congregate Care

Fred Wulczyn, Lily Alpert, Zach Martinez, & Ava Weiss | 2015

Despite the mandate to place children in foster care in the least restrictive environment possible, the practice of placing children in congregate care settings persists in most places around the country.  The question is why and what can be done, from a policy perspective, to ensure that group care is used for the children and youth who need it most. Answering that question begins with learning how the use of group care varies in different parts of the country and why.

In the new research brief Within and Between State Variation in the Use of Congregate Care we illustrate how reliance on group care placement differs throughout the country and explore how child characteristics (age, race/ethnicity, and gender) influence the odds of being placed in a group setting. We then take that analysis to the next level by examining how attributes of place such as urbanicity and socioeconomic characteristics contribute to the likelihood of placement in group care. The contextual approach adds a critical perspective to conversations regarding the allocation of congregate care resources as it raises important questions about how system dynamics shape agencies’ ability to match the supply of congregate care resources to their true demand.

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Research Is Action: Disparity, Poverty, and the Need for New Knowledge

Fred Wulczyn | 2011
A great deal of work has already been done to explore racial disparity in maltreatment rates and admission to out-of-home care. However, there are still fundamental research questions and policy and practice implications that must be addressed before we can reasonably expect to make progress on such a deep and important problem. This report explores the issue of disparity and the reasons for investing more in understanding it.
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A 5-Year Projection in the Number of Children Turning Age 18 while in Foster Care

Fred Wulczyn, Linda Collins | 2010
In this report, the authors describe a model for projecting the number of children who will turn 18 while in foster care (i.e., will age out of foster care) in the coming five years. Taking into account changes in the number of children entering care, changes in the age distribution of children entering care, and changes in how long children stay in care, the model projects that the number of children aging out of foster care will most likely decline and then level off over the next 5 years.
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