Behavioral economics is a strong lens through which to study the child welfare system and child maltreatment, both in how the parents, attorneys, caseworkers, and judges involved in the child welfare system make decisions and in how those decisions affect children’s outcomes and future prospects.

This study will address three main questions: Do actions compliant with statutory time frames and court performance measures decrease the amount of time children spend in foster care? What factors correlate with permanency outcomes of children in foster care, and do actions compliant with statutory time frames and court performance measures improve outcomes? How do the child welfare and court processes affect children's educational outcomes, including GPA, graduation and performance on norm- and criterion-referenced exams? The PI will use a variety of quantitative methods including survival analysis to examine the length of time in the court system, ordered logic to consider the legally-defined outcomes of child welfare cases. Data for this project were obtained for the time period of FY2010-2012. This will be the first use for research of a new database for juvenile courts in Arkansas.

This study was funded by a 2013 Dissertation Grant.