Neighborhood Structure and Foster Care Entry Risk: The Role of Spatial Scale in Defining Neighborhoods
This article was published in, and the following abstract copied from Children and Youth Services Review.
The renewed popularity of neighborhood-based child welfare services has been built on studies showing that certain neighborhood demographic characteristics are linked to child maltreatment. In response to this data, public child welfare system reform efforts seek to target services to neighborhoods at high risk for child welfare involvement. This study examines whether or not those neighborhood attributes are related to the risk of entering foster care. These relationships are examined at three spatial scales to establish whether the associations change depending on neighborhood operationalization. Foster care entries between 2000 and 2003 (n = 3311) from a largely urban California county are geocoded to each of the three scales (N = 46 zip codes, 320 Census tracts and 983 Census block groups). Fourteen demographic Census indicators are reduced to four meaningful constructs. Residential instability, impoverishment and childcare burden are positively associated with high foster care entry rates no matter how neighborhoods are delineated.