ERIC Number: ED478706
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2003-Jul-24
Reference Count: N/A
Deterioration of Child Welfare Families under Conditions of Welfare Reform. JCPR Working Paper.
Wells, Kathleen; Guo, Shenyang; Shafran, Robert D.; Pearlmutter, Susan
At the time the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996 (P. L. 104-193) was being debated, some child welfare advocates raised the concern that its effect on families at high risk of involvement in the child welfare system or on families already involved in the child welfare system would be negative. As the debate regarding the re-authorization of this act continues, an assessment needs to be made as to whether the original concern was well-founded. In Ohio, both the public child welfare and the public welfare programs are administered at the county level. A program of research was developed to examine one public child welfare system under conditions of welfare reform in one county, Cuyahoga County, in this state. The program is comprised of four inter-related but separate components: the Policy Study, the Caseload Study, the Cohort Study, and the Interview Study. These consist, in turn, of: an examination of the implementation of welfare reform in the county; an assessment of whether child welfare caseloads increased under conditions of welfare reform; an assessment of how changes in county child welfare caseloads were expressed at the individual level; and a study of the work and welfare experiences, as well as resources and needs, of biological mothers of children in foster care. The research program is non-experimental and, as a result, it cannot be used to show definitively that welfare reform causes any findings that were obtained. It is, by way of contrast, an in-depth case study, that relies on multiple methods, of the child welfare system in one urban county under conditions of welfare reform. This paper summarizes some important findings from this research program to date, in order to make the case that child welfare families have deteriorated under conditions of welfare reform. The number of children referred to foster care in the post-welfare reform period was, on average, higher each month than in in the pre-welfare reform period. In addition, a higher proportion of foster children remained in care 18 months post-placement, after welfare reform than before. Although the higher a child's mother's post-placement income, the faster her child returns home both before and after welfare reform, this effect is greater after welfare reform than before. Finally, although there are no comparable dates for both pre- and post-welfare reform samples of mothers, slightly more than half the mothers with children in foster care after reform were living in "extreme poverty," and many mothers of children in foster care have significant obstacles to employment. (Contains 46 references. (Author/HTH)
Descriptors: Child Welfare, Family Financial Resources, Family Needs, Family (Sociological Unit), Foster Children, Program Effectiveness, Program Evaluation, Welfare Reform
Joint Center for Poverty Research, University of Chicago, 1155 E. 60th Street, Chicago, IL 60637. Tel: 773-702-0472; Fax: 773-702-0926; Web site: http://www.jcpr.org. For full text: http://www.jcpr.org/wpfiles/wells.pdf.
Publication Type: Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: N/A
Sponsor: Annie E. Casey Foundation, Baltimore, MD.; George Gund Foundation, Cleveland, OH.; Cleveland Foundation, OH.; Ohio State Dept. of Mental Health, Columbus.
Authoring Institution: Joint Center for Poverty Research, IL.
Identifiers - Laws, Policies, & Programs: Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunities Reconciliation Act