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.