Predictors of Successful Permanency Planning and Length of Stay in Florida's Foster Care System

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Permanency planning has been the accepted practice of the American child welfare system for the past quarter-century. Permanency planning for foster care is the process of taking prompt, decisive action to maintain children in their own homes, or to permanently place them with other families. This study examined the significant predictors of successful permanency planning and length of stay in foster care for children served by the child welfare system in Florida. A retrospective study was made of children who had been placed into and exited foster care in Florida between July 1, 1998, and December 1, 1999. Each child (n = 7807) was studied for 12 months from the day of entry into foster care. The relative importance of factors contributing to the outcome of permanency planning was determined using logistic regression. Results showed that across the state, the child's geographic district of residence was the single most important predictor of outcome. Geography accounted for a 7-fold difference among districts in the rate of successful permanency planning. Other factors that helped determine the outcome of permanency planning were race, presence of a mental disorder, developmental disabilities and placement in therapeutic foster care.

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Children and Youth Services Review, v. 29, issue 8, p. 1102-1113