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NSCAW, No. 1: Who Are the Children in Foster Care?, Research Brief, Findings from the NSCAW Study

Published: January 15, 2007
Abuse, Neglect, Adoption & Foster Care
National Survey of Child and Adolescent Well-Being (NSCAW), 1997-2014 and 2015-2022 | Learn more about this project
NSCAW: Research Briefs

The National Survey of Child and Adolescent Well-Being (NSCAW) is a national longitudinal study of the well-being of more than 6,200 children who had contact with the child welfare system within a 15-month period starting in October 1999. These children—ages 14 and younger—were selected from two groups: 5,501 from among those entering the child protective system in that period, and 727 from among children who had been in out-of-home placement for about 12 months. Out-of-home placement includes conventional foster care, kinship foster care, group care, residential treatment, and other settings. Throughout this brief we refer generally to these out-of-home placements as foster care.

This research brief focuses on the 727 children who had been in foster care for 12 months at the time the study began. The data were drawn from interviews with the children, their current caregivers, and their caseworkers a few months after the study began in 1999. It is important to note that the findings from this study may not generalize to all children in foster care, since many children leave foster care after only a few months. Further, the sample includes only a small number of children in group care, so findings related to this particular group of children should be interpreted with caution. However, this study provides important information on those children who have remained in foster care for a year.

Last Reviewed: April 29, 2019