UK Family Law Reform

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Study Concludes That Kids Are Better Off In Troubled Homes Than In Foster Care
By Linda Jo Martin On July 6, 2007

Children are better off when left in troubled homes, and not detained in state custody foster homes.

Joseph Doyle Jr., an economics professor at the MIT Sloan School of Management did a study on foster children compared to children living in troubled homes, funded by the National Science Foundation. He used the analytic tools of applied economics to discover that “…children on the margin of foster care placement have better employment, delinquency, and teen motherhood outcomes when they remain at home.”

PLEASE, social workers, legislators, everyone. LISTEN. Most kids are better off when left in their natural family homes. If you care about children, if you want them to have good lives and turn out to be happy, productive citizens, don’t take them away from non-abusive parents.

Doyle’s study tracked more than 15,000 children in Illinois from 1990 to 2002. He chose Illinois because they provided the statistics he needed. He screened out extreme cases of abuse and concentrated only on children whose cases could have gone either way (remaining in their family homes, or going to foster homes).

A July 3, 2007 USA Today article by Wendy Koch states, “Studies . . . show that the 500,000 children in U.S. foster care are more likely than other kids to drop out of school, commit crimes, abuse drugs and become teen parents. . . . His research has shown that this holds true even when foster kids are compared with other disadvantaged youth.”

In conclusion, Doyle wrote: “With the child welfare system affecting so many children who appear to be at high risk of poor life outcomes, it would be useful to know whether abused children benefit from being removed from their families. The analysis here uses the effective randomization of abuse investigators, who differ somewhat in their tendency to have children placed in foster care, to estimate causal effects of placement on longer-term outcomes. Children assigned to investigators with higher removal rates are more likely to be placed in foster care themselves, and they are found to have higher delinquency rates, along with some evidence of higher teen birth rates and lower earnings.”

Thank you, Joseph Doyle Jr., for doing this study.