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Understanding Postadoption and Guardianship Instability for Children and Youth Who Exit Foster Care, 2017 - 2020

Project Overview

For children in foster care, adoption and guardianship represent two important permanency outcomes. However, a finalized adoption or guardianship does not necessarily indicate that a child will experience long-term stability or have a permanent home. Instability may be formal (where a child re-enters foster care) or informal (where a child lives temporarily with another family member). 

The extent to which families experience both formal and informal post adoption and guardianship instability is uncertain. And, the reasons for this instability are not always clear. In addition, little is known about the potential of child welfare agencies to serve as a key source of information on instability. 

The purpose of the Understanding Postadoption and Guardianship Instability for Children and Youth Who Exit Foster Care project is to examine rates of instability, factors associated with instability, and the supports and resources that promote post-permanency stability. Ultimately, the project aims to support efforts to build the capacity of federal, state, and local agencies to get accurate information about instability for children who exit foster care to adoption or guardianship. To date, the project has:

  1. Conducted an assessment of the knowledge base related to postadoption and guardianship instability
  2. Developed design options for a group of studies that would leverage existing data and collect new data to obtain information on postadoption and guardianship instability

Currently, the project is developing plans to execute two studies and has future plans to produce resources that will build the capacity of agencies at the federal, state, and/or local level to collect ongoing information about postadoption and guardianship instability and its correlates.

The contract for this project was awarded to RTI international.

The points of contact are Amanda Clincy Coleman and Molly Jones.