Improving Family Foster Care | Findings from the Northwest Foster Care Alumni Study

Authors: Peter J. Pecora, Ronald C. Kessler, Jason Williams, Kirk O’Brien, A. Chris Downs, Diana English, James White, Eva Hiripi, Catherine Roller White, Tamera Wiggins, and Kate Holmes

During fiscal year 2003 in the United States, 800,000 children were served by foster care services; 523,000 children were still in care at the end of that year. Relatively few studies have examined how youth formerly in care (“alumni”) have fared as adults, and even fewer studies have examined what changes in foster care services could improve their lives. The Northwest Foster Care Alumni Study provides new information in both areas.

Case record reviews were conducted for 659 alumni (479 of whom were interviewed) who had been in the care of Casey Family Programs or the Oregon or Washington state child welfare agencies between 1988 and 1998. Findings for three domains are presented: Mental Health, Education, and Employment and Finances. This summary also provides an overview of a predictive analysis showing which foster care services, when optimized, hold the greatest promise for improving the outcomes for foster youth.

Improving Family Foster Care

Findings from the Casey National Alumni Study are presented in the report Improving Family Foster Care. The study examined case records for 659 alumni (479 of whom were interviewed) who had been in the care of Casey Family Programs or the Oregon or Washington State child welfare agencies between 1988 and 1998. This report lists findings in three outcome domains: Mental Health, Education, and Employment and Finance.

This report also provides an overview of a predictive analysis showing which foster care services, when optimized, hold the greatest promise for improving the outcomes for foster youth. Practice and policy recommendations are included.

For researchers and others interested in background materials for the alumni studies, Casey is pleased to make available the projects’ major reports, instruments, and supplemental information.