Recipe: Infants in foster care—Part 1
In May 2011, Chapin Hall researchers released a study that used FCDA data to produce an epidemiological and developmental snapshot of infants in foster care. The research showed that infants are a growing proportion of first-time admissions to foster care. It also showed that infants experience foster care differently from children who enter care at older ages. For example, children who enter care as infants spend a longer amount of time in foster care; are more likely to exit to adoption; and are particularly vulnerable to developmental risk factors such as physical neglect, poor health, caregiver substance abuse, and others.
Meeting the needs of infants in foster care requires developmentally appropriate interventions delivered in the right dose. This Recipe is the first in a 4-part series that uses the web tool to explore infants’ experience in care and how to target opportunities for improving their outcomes. Here, in Part 1, I start off by showing you how to use the web tool to find out the proportion of children entering foster care as infants.
This Recipe can be completed in just a few clicks.
Question: What proportion of children entering foster care in my jurisdiction are infants?
- Log into the Multistate site. On the left hand sidebar, click Profile Report.
- At the top of the page, select the geographic area you want to analyze.
- Under Select report category, select Admission Trends.
- Under Select report type, select Table 1: Number and percent of first entries by age. Then click Run report.
Your results will open in a new tab. Here are the results from the county I selected:
Table 1 shows us how many children entered foster care for the first time in each of the last eight entry years, and the number and proportion of those children who were under 1 year old, 1 to 5 years old, 6 to 12 years old, and 13 to 17 years old when they entered foster care. In this particular county, the proportion of entrants coming into care as infants has been rising pretty steadily, growing from 22% of entrants in 2004 to 34% of entrants in 2011. And, similar to the national trend, in 2011, infants currently represent the largest subgroup of children entering care in this county—over a third of children entering care were under the age of 1.
You can make a graph of these results in Microsoft Excel. Repeat the Recipe above, except in Step 4, instead of clicking Run report, click Download data. This will open a .csv file in Excel, which you can use to create a graph that looks like this:
In this Recipe, we used the web tool to learn how many infants are entering care in a given area, but we’ll need to know much more about their experiences in foster care before deciding what types of services they might need. In the next Recipe, I dig into this question by using the web tool to compare infants’ length of stay to that of older children in care.