Child Well-Being Spotlight: Children Living in Kinship Care and Nonrelative Foster Care Are Unlikely to Receive Needed Early Intervention or Special Education Services

Publication Date: November 5, 2020
This is the cover Child Well-Being Spotlight: Children Living in Kinship Care and Nonrelative Foster Care Are Unlikely to Receive Needed Early Intervention or Special Education Services

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Introduction

Research Questions

  1. Is there a difference in the presence of developmental delays and cognitive or academic functioning that would potentially qualify children in voluntary kinship care, formal kinship care, and nonrelative foster care for early intervention (IFSP) or special education services (IEP)?
  2. Among children who may qualify for an IFSP or IEP, is there a difference in the receipt of services among children in voluntary kinship care, formal kinship care, and nonrelative foster care?

Early intervention for children with developmental delays or disabilities may prevent future need for special education services. The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) allows each state to establish criteria for eligibility for early intervention services for children younger than 3 years old (Part C) and special education services for children 3 years of age and older (Part B). Children meeting the criteria for Part B should have an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) for receiving special education and those meeting the criteria for Part C should have an Individualized Family Services Plan (IFSP) for receiving early intervention. Further, the federal Keeping Children Safe Act requires states to develop procedures for referring child maltreatment victims under 3 years old to early intervention services.

The data analyzed for this spotlight is from the National Survey of Child and Adolescent Well-Being, Second Cohort (NSCAW II), a nationally representative sample of children involved with the child welfare system (CWS). It allows for the identification of children with developmental delays and compromised cognitive or academic functioning.

Purpose

The purpose of the spotlight is to examine the degree to which early intervention and special education services are being received by children who may have developmental delays and/or compromised cognitive or academic functioning, and the difference in unmet needs between children in voluntary kinship care, formal kinship care, and nonrelative foster care.

Key Findings and Highlights

Direct assessments of children 0 to 2 years old indicate that those placed in nonrelative foster care are significantly more likely to have a developmental delay (37%) than those placed in formal kinship care (22%) and voluntary kinship care (26%). Among children 3 to 17 years old, developmental, cognitive, or academic needs are identified for 29% of children placed in nonrelative foster care, 36% of children placed in formal kinship care, and 21% of children placed in voluntary kinship care. These differences among children 3 to 17 years old are not statistically significant.

Unmet early intervention and special education needs are particularly large among children who are living in voluntary kinship care. Young children placed in voluntary kinship care with developmental, cognitive, or language delays identified in NSCAW assessments are significantly less likely to have an IFSP (4%) than similar children placed in nonrelative foster care (22%). Among children 3 to 17 years old, those placed in voluntary kinship care with cognitive or academic needs are significantly less likely to have an IEP (22%) than similar children placed in nonrelative foster care (54%). It is especially important to note that across all types of placements, most children involved with the CWS who potentially need these critical services do not receive them.   

Methods

All analyses were conducted using NSCAW II data.  Descriptive analyses were conducted with weighted data using the SUDAAN statistical package to account for NSCAW’s complex sampling design. ADDIN EN.CITE <EndNote><Cite ExcludeAuth="1" ExcludeYear="1"><Author>Blazer</Author><Year>1994</Year><RecNum>97</RecNum><record><rec-number>97</rec-number><foreign-keys><key app="EN" db-id="95a2pst9bdwvw8eaw2dp5styevvfwfvva0r9">97</key></foreign-keys><ref-type name="Journal Article">17</ref-type><contributors><authors><author>Blazer, D. G.</author><author>Kessler, R. C.</author><author>McGonagle, K. A.</author><author>Swartz, M. S.</author></authors></contributors><titles><title>The prevalence and distribution of major depression in a national community sample: The National Comorbidity Survey</title><secondary-title>American Journal of Psychiatry</secondary-title></titles><periodical><full-title>American Journal of Psychiatry</full-title><abbr-1>Am. J. Psychiatry</abbr-1><abbr-2>Am J Psychiatry</abbr-2></periodical><pages>979-986</pages><volume>151</volume><dates><year>1994</year></dates><urls></urls></record></Cite></EndNote> Thus, all percentages are adjusted (weighted) for sampling probabilities. Bivariate analysis (chi-square statistics) were used to test for the statistical significance of the differences across the groups of children on receipt of an IFSP or IEP.

Developmental delays were defined based on children birth to 5 years old having a diagnosed mental or medical condition that has a high probability of resulting in developmental delay (e.g., Down syndrome) and/or being 2 standard deviations below the mean in at least one developmental area or 1.5 standard deviations below the mean in two areas. Areas included cognitive development based on the Battelle Developmental Inventory & Screening Test, 2nd Edition (BDI-2) or Kaufman Brief Intelligence Test (K-BIT), communication development based on the Preschool Language Scale-3 (PLS-3), and adaptive development based on the Vineland Daily Living Skills.

Children 6 to 17 years old were considered to be at risk for a cognitive disabilities or low academic achievement if they had a score 2 standard deviations or more below the mean for the K-BIT (considered a cognitive need) or Woodcock-Johnson III (considered an academic need).

Citation

Casanueva, C., Smith, K., Ringeisen, H., Dolan, M., Testa, M. & Burfeind, C. (2020). NSCAW Child Well-Being Spotlight: Children Living in Kinship Care and Nonrelative Foster Care Are Unlikely to Receive Needed Early Intervention or Special Education Services. OPRE Report #2020-31, Washington, DC: Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation, Administration for Children and Families, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Glossary

Voluntary kinship care:
a child living with kin and no payments are received from CWS for the care of the child, and the caregiver does not have a license or certificate to provide foster care. Caregivers may receive support through Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) for their care of the child.
Formal kinship care:
a child placed with kin through CWS involvement and the caregiver receives payments from CWS. The caregiver may or may not be licensed or certified.
Nonrelative foster care:
a child placed with a nonrelative caregiver through CWS involvement, the caregiver receives payments from CWS, and the caregiver is a licensed or certified foster caregiver.
Individual Family Service Plan (IFSP):
a plan for special services for children birth to 2 years old with developmental delays.
Individualized Education Program (IEP):
a plan for special education services for children age 3 and older with developmental, cognitive, or academic needs.
Current as of: