Job Market Paper:

Foster Care Providers and Educational Outcomes for Children

In this paper, I will look to understand the ways in which children’s experiences with foster care, and the characteristics of foster parents, interact to influence outcomes—rather than examining these issues separately and treating them as independent. Specifically, I will examine a range of placement characteristics, from foster parent experience to school stability to uncover what factors are most important in improving outcomes for children in foster care. Understanding the dynamics of the relationship between foster family characteristics and outcomes for children could help policymakers optimize the resources they already have, improving outcomes without increasing costs.

This study uses longitudinal administrative data on children involved in the child welfare system and their caretakers. I use variation over time in the pool of available foster parents and the caseworkers assigned to children to identify the impact of match type on schooling outcomes for children. I focus on provider types, including how experienced the provider is, the race of the provider, and other sociodemographic information to understand which types of providers are optimal for which types of children. Using data from the Department of Public Instruction, the outcomes I focus on are school based and include test scores, attendance, and disciplinary records. Exploiting the panel nature of the data, I hope to identify dynamic interactions between placements over time, to provide evidence on key moments for intervention. While many proposed improvements to the foster care system require large policy changes and financial investments, information about the best types of matches and trajectories for children could be incorporated by practitioners without significant policy intervention.

Working Papers:

Hamilton, Barton, Andres Hincapie, Emma Kalish, and Nick Papageorge. 2021. Innovation and Health Disparities During a Pandemic: The Case of HIV. NBER working paper 28864.

Emma Kalish and Robert Moffitt. 2020. The Great MTR Pivot in US Transfer Programs, 1983-2014. Mimeo.