Institutions vs. Foster Homes: The Empirical Base for a Century of Action

Published On: June 1, 2002


This is an important report on recent research comparing the advantages and disadvantages of institutional care to those of family foster care and other forms of out-of-home care. The report found that compared to foster care, institutions: (1) are not safer or better at promoting child development; (2) are not more stable; (3) generally fail to promote adoption or reunification of families; (4) do not achieve a better quality of life for children when they reach adulthood; and (5) are not a cost-effective form of caring for children and teens. Very little scientific evidence was found to support previous claims that group care does a better job of achieving the major goals of the child welfare system. This report will help you frame the current debate about whether children who cannot live with their birth families are better served in group care and orphanages or in family foster care.

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