Who Are the Infants in Out-of-Home Care?
Studying children in out-of-home care is laden with challenges. One of these challenges lies in the fact that there is considerable diversity in this population of children.
In this brief, we argue that infants represent a distinctive subset of the out-of-home care population with unique needs and strengths. Using data from the Multistate Foster Care Data Archive and data from the National Survey of Child and Adolescent Well-Being (NSCAW), we distinguish the infant population in out-of-home care from older children in terms of their incidence and duration of time spent in care, their experiences in care, and characteristics of the infants themselves and their birth families. We also discuss the developmental distinctiveness of infancy and the particular vulnerabilities infants in care face in terms of delays in cognitive, social, and emotional development.