System/Policy Determinants of Inequalities in Child Welfare: The Case of Running Away From Foster Care

Do state policies regulating the use and quality of congregate care affect racial and ethnic disparities in youth running away from foster care?

While running away is common among all foster care youth, frequency is greatest among black and latino youth, especially when they are placed in congregate care settings. In this study, the investigators will examine the relationship between the rates of youth running away from care and state child welfare policies regulating congregate care? They will also study whether variability in state policies on congregate care explain racial and ethnic differences in rates of youth running away from foster care. The study draws on an administrative data, focusing on more than 50,000 children who entered the foster care system in 2010, 2011, and 2012 and were between the ages of 12 and 17 at the time of their initial placement. The team will link child placement and monitoring data collected by child welfare agencies, county-level data on the supply and use of congregate care placements, and state-level data on policies related to running away and the use of congregate care. Findings from the study will provide guidance to policymakers about the relative effect of state policy on youth running away from care, with an emphasis on policies that reduce racial and ethnic inequalities.

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