Sarah Font receives R01 grant from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development
The proposed study will investigate the impact of foster care, and specific experiences within foster care, on the physical and mental health of children exposed to abuse or neglect. This population is among the most vulnerable in the U.S., with a disproportionately high prevalence of adverse health and wellbeing outcomes throughout the life course. The Aims of this proposal are: (1) Examine the effects of foster care on health over time; (2) Investigate the influence of placement experiences on foster children’s health during and after exiting foster care; and (3) Evaluate the effects of maintaining family connections on foster children’s health during and after exiting foster care. Prior research in this area has suffered one or more significant limitations, including: threats to causal inference; cross-sectional, short-term, or discrete observation periods; small or non-representative samples; reliance on caregiver-reported health outcomes; and a lack of focus on physical health. This proposal seeks to address these limitations and provide sound empirical evidence on the role of foster care in children’s immediate and longer-tem health.