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Long-term consequences of foster care for adult well-being

Sandra Kae Cook, University of Nebraska - Lincoln


The object of the present study was to examine the adult functioning of individuals who were in foster care placements during childhood. The data for the analyses were a part of the National Survey of Families and Households. The study compared the adult well-being of 107 former foster children and 12,910 non-foster placed adults. It was predicted that former foster care placement would be associated with poorer adult functioning. The results of the study indicate that former foster children did report lower scores on life happiness, higher depression scores, lower levels of esteem, lower scores on marital happiness, less intimate paternal and maternal relationships, and higher incidence of social isolation than adults who were never in foster care placements. These findings persisted after controlling for background variables, socioeconomic and marital status. The present study also attempted to delineate the aspects of foster care placement that adversely affect later life functioning. It was predicted that older age at first placement, multiple disruptions from the parental home, more frequent contact with the biological parents, failure in family functioning, and longer length of time in foster care placements would be associated with lower levels of adult well-being. The results of the analyses which examine the relationship between foster care factors and adult well-being suggest that foster care variables are not able to significantly predict the variance in adult well-being.

Subject Area

Sociology|Social work|Welfare

Recommended Citation

Cook, Sandra Kae, "Long-term consequences of foster care for adult well-being" (1992). ETD collection for University of Nebraska-Lincoln. AAI9225463.