Do specialty courts achieve better outcomes for children in foster care than general courts?
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OBJECTIVE: This study assessed the effects of unified family and drug treatment courts (DTCs) on the resolution of cases involving foster care children and the resulting effects on school performance. METHOD: The first analytic step was to assess the impacts of presence of unified and DTCs in North Carolina counties on time children spent in foster care and the type of placement at exit from foster care. In the second step, the same data on foster care placements were merged with school records for youth in Grades 3-8 in public schools. The effect of children's time in foster care and placement outcomes on school performance as measured by math and reading tests, grade retention, and attendance was assessed using child fixed-effects regression. RESULTS: Children in counties with unified family courts experienced shorter foster care spells and higher rates of reunification with parents or primary caregivers. Shorter foster care spells translated into improved school performance measured by end-of-grade reading and math test scores. Adult DTCs were associated with lower probability of reunification with parents/primary caregivers. CONCLUSION: The shortened time in foster care implies an efficiency gain attributable to unified family courts, which translate into savings for the court system through the use of fewer resources. Children also benefit through shortened stays in temporary placements, which are related to some improved educational outcomes.
crime and justice (adult and juvenile)
Child of Impaired Parents
Foster Home Care
Substance Abuse Treatment Centers
Published Version (Please cite this version)10.1177/0193841X13487536
Publication InfoAcquah, KF; Blevins, CE; Eldred, LM; Gifford, Elizabeth Joanne; & Sloan, Frank A (2013). Do specialty courts achieve better outcomes for children in foster care than general courts?. Eval Rev, 37(1). pp. 3-34. 10.1177/0193841X13487536. Retrieved from http://hdl.handle.net/10161/12807.
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Assistant Research Professor in the Sanford School of Public Policy
Beth Gifford is an Assistant Research Professor in the Sanford School of Public Policy. Gifford is leading the Social and Economic Component of the Children’s Health and Discovery Institute housed within the Duke School of Medicine Department of Pediatrics. She is currently serving as an Early Childhood Policy Fellow with the North Carolina Department
J. Alexander McMahon Professor Emeritus of Health Policy and Management
Professor Sloan is interested in studying the subjects of health policy and the economics of aging, hospitals, health, pharmaceuticals, and substance abuse. He has received funding from numerous research grants that he earned for studies of which he was the principal investigator. His most recent grants were awarded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the Center for Disease Control, the Pew Charitable Trust, and the National Institute on Aging. Titles of his projects include, “Why Mature S
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Parental Criminal Justice Involvement and Children's Involvement With Child Protective Services: Do Adult Drug Treatment Courts Prevent Child Maltreatment? Eldred, LM; Evans, Kelly; Gifford, Elizabeth Joanne; Sloan, Frank A (Subst Use Misuse, 2016)BACKGROUND: In light of evidence showing reduced criminal recidivism and cost savings, adult drug treatment courts have grown in popularity. However, the potential spillover benefits to family members are understudied. ...
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