Back in September
Christopher Wildeman (Department of Sociology, Yale University)
11-12-2012, at noon in room 6050 ISR-Thompson.
We provide the first estimates of the cumulative risk of experiencing foster care placement by age 18 for American children by race/ethnicity and sex for the years 2000 to 2009 using data from the Adoption and Foster Care Analysis and Reporting System (AFCARS) and synthetic cohort life tables. Our results provide support for four conclusions. First, many children will experience foster care placement at some point. About 5% to 6% of children will experience foster care placement by age 18, far greater than the less than 1% of children who are in foster care on any given day. Second, there are vast racial/ethnic disparities in this risk. Asian children had the lowest risk at 2% to 3%, with whites (about 4%) and Hispanics (about 5%) slightly higher. The risks for African American and Native American children were dramatically higher, however. African American children had risks in the 9% to 12% percent range, while Native American children had risks of between 12% and 15%. Third, sex differences in the cumulative risk of foster care placement were negligible. Finally, state-level differences in the cumulative risk of foster care placement, as well as disparities in that risk, were massive. Taken together, results demonstrate that more children will experience foster care placement at some point than typically thought and that these risks are unequally distributed enough that they may have consequences for childhood inequality.