Foster Care, Poverty, Prisons, and Psychiatric Hospitals

By Fortune, Anne E. | Social Work Research, September 2000 | Go to article overview

Foster Care, Poverty, Prisons, and Psychiatric Hospitals


Fortune, Anne E., Social Work Research


This issue of Social Work Research illustrates the breadth of social work and social work research. It includes articles on kinship foster care, the effects of poverty on parenting and children's behavior, group intervention with inmates, discharge from long-term psychiatric hospitals, and the application of a statistical procedure called multilevel covariance structure analysis.

Foster care in the home of someone biologically related to the child--often a grandparent, aunt, or uncle--is an increasingly common form of foster care in the United States. Which children are likely to be placed in kinship care? Grogan-Kaylor used data from the California child welfare system to compare children placed in kinship care with those placed in other forms of out-of-home care. Results of the logistic regression indicate that children were more likely to be placed in kinship care if they were black or Latino, neglected (versus other forms of maltreatment), from a single-parent family (compared with two-parent), older, without health problems, living in Los Angeles or a rural-urban county, and from families not receiving AFDC. The effect of differences within the child welfare system was evident in placement variation by year as well as by location.

Poverty has debilitating effects on children, but through what mechanisms? Eamon used a mother-child data set from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth to investigate the effects of long-term poverty, recent poverty, and moving in and out of poverty on children's behavior problems. She used structural equation models to test how parenting practices mediate or change the effects of poverty on behavior problems. Persistent (long-term) poverty led to lower-quality home physical environment, which led to internalizing behaviors such as sadness and anxiety. Recently poor families had poorer parenting practices, and children had more internalizing problems and externalizing problems like bullying or disobedience. However, transitions in and out of poverty were associated with better parenting, physical environment, and child behavior.

Prisoners have physical health, mental health, and educational needs that rarely are addressed, even when rehabilitative efforts are offered. Pomeroy, Kiam, and Green evaluated the effects of a psycho-educational group that combined supportive therapy and HIV/AIDS education for male inmates in a southeastern urban jail. …

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