From the Editor: Real Scholarship on Real-World Issues for America's Children, Youth, and Families

By Mallon, Gary | Child Welfare, January 1, 2017 | Go to article overview

From the Editor: Real Scholarship on Real-World Issues for America's Children, Youth, and Families


Mallon, Gary, Child Welfare


In an era of allegations about fake news, unsubstantiated tweets, and accusations that long-standing social programs are ineffective, our country and our profession needs to focus even harder on real-world, rigorous approaches to examine and to be responsive to the critical issues effecting children, youth, and families in the child welfare system. This volume of Child Welfare focuses on a range of these issues: housing for youth in foster care; adoption policy and well-being; issues of sexual abuse in rural communities; psychological maltreatment; and the effects of psychopharmacology on pregnant teens.

In our first article, authors Dworsky, Dion, Kleinman, and Kauff study how communities are using the Family Unification Program (FUP) to address the housing needs of former foster youth. After analyzing data collected from 91 public housing agencies with FUPs that serve youth and from 70 of their partner public child welfare agencies, findings indicate that implementation of the FUP with this population varies significantly across communities.

Adoption policy and the well-being of adopted children are discussed in our second article. Authors Provencher, Kahn, and Hansen measured the extent to which the well-being of children adopted from foster care in the United States has changed in response to laws that encouraged speedier adoption but targeted older children who often have special needs. Well-being was measured using its inverse, problems, and by using a nationally representative data sample to construct a multidimensional composite index. By employing such a strategy, the authors found that, though the laws successfully increased older child adoptions, efforts to reduce time to adoption have not resulted in improvements in the well-being of adopted children.

In an exploratory analysis, authors Griffiths, Murphy, and Harper, in our third entry, explore child sexual abuse and the impact of rurality on foster care outcomes. The overarching goal of this study was to use binary logistic regression to investigate whether any child demographic or environmental characteristics predicted the discharge of a child placed in Kentucky's foster care system for child sexual abuse. Results indicated that children in the most rural areas of the state were over 10 times more likely to be discharged from foster care during the federal fiscal year than those residing in the most urban areas. …

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