Date of Award

Spring 5-15-2018

Author's School

Graduate School of Arts and Sciences

Author's Department

Social Work

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Type



In the United States, at any given time, there are nearly 400,000 children in foster care due to maltreatment or for reasons such as parental incarceration, parental death or voluntary relinquishment. Youth in out of home care are a small proportion of all children served by the child welfare system, but they comprise the majority of the system costs and are at high risk for poor outcomes across a number of domains. Concerns regarding both cost and poor outcomes began a trend toward privatization of child welfare in the mid-1990s. Despite the long history, there has been very little evaluation of outcomes outside of assessing cost savings. This dissertation used data from the Adoption and Foster Care Analysis and Reporting System (AFCARS) supplemented with policy information available through the Child Welfare Gateway and state websites to assess whether youth permanency outcomes (length of stay, type of exit from care and re-entry into care) varied according to privatization of services. Results indicate that overall youth served by privatized systems stay longer in care and are somewhat less likely to have a positive exit (return home, adoption or permanent residence with relative). On the other hand, among those who did exit care, youth served in privatized systems were less likely to return to care. Implications for continued research, policy and program planning are discussed.


English (en)

Chair and Committee

Melissa Jonson-Reid

Committee Members

Derek Brown, Brett Drake, Patricia Kohl, Patrick Fowler,


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