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Raising the Cut-Off: The Empirical Case for Extending Adoption and Guardianship Subsidies from Age 18 to 21

33 Pages Posted: 26 Aug 2008 Last revised: 26 Jan 2009

Mary Eschelbach Hansen

American University - Department of Economics

Josh Gupta-Kagan

University of South Carolina School of Law

Date Written: August 26, 2008

Abstract

Few children become financially independent at age 18. Adolescents often (and increasingly) rely financially on their parents or caretakers until an older age. Such reliance is likely to be greater among children who have been abused or neglected by their birth families, and who, by court finding, could not reunify with their parents. Parental abuse and neglect is often associated with special needs in children, and the dislocation from birth families to the foster care system imposes a short-term, and sometimes lasting, trauma. A disproportionate number of such children have a mental illness, behavioral challenges, or learning disability that may require the provision of services. Many children involved in foster care lose one or more years of school or have to repeat grades, leaving them living at home enrolled fulltime in secondary school past the age of 18.

Adoption and guardianship subsidies may offset part of the cost of accepting permanent responsibility for the care of a child who has been in foster care. But not all adoption and guardianship subsidies can be extended to cover costs of support past the age of 18. We explore the effects of extending adoption subsidies to age 21. Does extending subsidies increase the number of adoptions and legal guardianships from state foster care systems? Administrative data from state child welfare systems strongly suggests that the answer is affirmative.

Keywords: child welfare, abuse, neglect, adoption, guardianship, subsidy

Suggested Citation

Hansen, Mary Eschelbach and Gupta-Kagan, Josh, Raising the Cut-Off: The Empirical Case for Extending Adoption and Guardianship Subsidies from Age 18 to 21 (August 26, 2008). U.C. Davis Journal of Juvenile Law & Policy, Vol. 13, No. 1, 2009. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1259242

Mary Eschelbach Hansen

American University - Department of Economics ( email )

4400 Massachusetts Avenue, N.W.
Washington, DC 20016-8029
United States

Josh Gupta-Kagan (Contact Author)

University of South Carolina School of Law ( email )

1525 Senate Street
Columbia, SC 29208
United States

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