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.
Published Version (Please cite this version)
Sloan, Frank A, Elizabeth J Gifford, Lindsey M Eldred, Kofi F Acquah and Claire E Blevins (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 https://hdl.handle.net/10161/12807.
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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 Smokers Do Not Quit,” “Legal and Economic Vulnerabilities of the Master Settlement Agreement,” “Determinants and Cost of Alcohol Abuse Among the Elderly and Near-elderly,” and “Reinsurance Markets and Public Policy.” He received the Investigator Award for his work on the project, “Reoccurring Crises in Medical Malpractice.” Some of his earlier works include the studies entitled, “Policies to Attract Nurses to Underserved Areas,” “The Impact of National Economic Conditions on the Health Care of the Poor-Access,” and “Analysis of Physician Price and Output Decisions.” Professor Sloan’s latest research continues to investigate the trends and repercussions of medical malpractice, physician behavior, and hospital behavior.
Beth Gifford is an associate research professor in the Sanford School of Public Policy, a core faculty member of the Center for Child and Family Policy and the Margolis Center for Health Policy, and leads the Social and Economic pillar of the Children’s Health and Discovery Institute. She leads a multidisciplinary research team that examines the health and social services engagement of children and families. Motivating her research is the need to understand how social policies and practices can better support children and families. Her work spans many public institutions including education, social services, criminal justice, and health care systems.
Lindsey Eldred Kozecke is a Research Scholar at Duke University. She first joined Duke in 2005, shortly after earning her law degree from Benjamin Cardozo School of Law. She began her research at Duke in the Center for Health Policy (now known as the Global Health Institute), and joined the Department of Economics in 2009. Ms. Eldred Kozecke focuses her research on the intersection of health and the law. Her current research focuses on substance use and misuse, treatment courts, and legal levers used to prevent child maltreatment. She has also worked on medical malpractice, co-authoring a book on the subject published by MIT Press. Along with PI Frank Sloan, she designed a three wave survey of drinking and driving behaviors and surveyed 1600 individuals in eight U.S. cities. This survey has resulted in the publication of several peer-reviewed papers. Along with her research responsibilities, Ms. Kozecke holds other professional positions. She is currently the managing editor of the American Journal of Health Economics. She is also licensed to practice law in both New York and North Carolina.
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