Recipe: Infants in foster care—Part 4
This is the last in a 4-part series that shows how to use the web tool to hone in on the needs of infants in foster care. In the last three posts, we used different parts of the web tool to learn how many infants are in our system in the first place, how long they spend in foster care, and what is unique about their placement and exit experience.
When we left off, we had just learned that, among other things, infants in our sample county are more likely than older children to be placed in non-relative foster care, to exit to adoption, and when they reunify, to reunify within 90 days. What can we learn about what goes on behind the scenes in these cases that can give us more information about what might expedite permanency for infants in foster care? In this Recipe, I’ll show you how to use the web tool to select a sample of infants for an in-depth case review.
This Recipe will take about 5 minutes to complete. In addition to the web tool, you may also find it helpful to use a spreadsheet program such as Microsoft Excel.
Question: How can I use the web tool to generate a sample of the children for an in-depth exploration of what goes on in their cases?
- On the All Spells page, select the same geographic area that you’ve analyzed throughout this series.
- Use the selection criteria to select all children who entered care for the first time in 2009:
- Admission type = First Admission
- Sample selection: From = 01-01-2009, To = 12-31-2009
- Scroll to the Define output section and select All under List records. Then click the List records button below.
The individual records of the children who meet these criteria will appear directly below. Note that the List Records function returns a maximum of 500 records at a time. If your results yield more than 500 records, you will see a message directly above your results that reads “Your search produced [number] records. Only the first 500 are displayed below.” If this happens, repeat the steps above, except in Step 3, click Download data, instead of List records.
Regardless of how many spells are in your results, clicking Download data will spawn a .csv file in Microsoft Excel. From there, you can use Excel to select a random sample of cases for in-depth review. For example, you might select a random sample of cases and examine them to see if there are casework differences between cases of infants and cases of older children that might be driving longer length of stay for infants. Perhaps there were activities undertaken in cases of older children that can be replicated with infants. Or you might select a random sample of only infants and compare the records of those who exited to those who did not. Regardless of the research question you’re using case record review to answer, it is critical that you use the appropriate sampling frame. Click here to learn more about how to choose a case record review sample.
In this 4-part series you learned how to use four different parts of the web tool to take a general inquiry and push it forward—refining it along the way to learn more and more about the groups of children you’re interested in, and in so doing, illuminating opportunities for targeted reforms. That precision is especially important when it comes to planning for the developmentally unique needs of infants. To learn more about policy and practice advocacy regarding infants in foster care, check out Zero To Three’s website at www.zerotothree.org/maltreatment/.