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Does Context Matter Submission Pre-print.pdf (581.99 kB)

Does Context Matter? Differences in the Use of Congregate Care by Black, White, and Hispanic Youth

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posted on 2020-03-18, 00:08 authored by Fred WulczynFred Wulczyn, Scott Huhr, Kristen Hislop, Amy Dworsky, Florie Schmits, John Halloran

In the paper, we examine the relationship between county context and the use of congregate care by White, Black, and Hispanic youth, aged between 10 and 17. We measure the use of congregate care as the probability a young person will be placed in congregate care during an out-of-home care spell. We define county context in three ways: urbanicity, social disadvantage, and the supply effect on demand. We also include whether states mandate the use of an assessment to regulate entry into congregate care. Our primary interest is organized around differences in county context, the rate of congregate care utilization, and the connection between context and disparity. We find that, regardless of race, congregate care placement rates tend to be higher in counties where supply affects demand. However, in those counties, the Black/White disparity tends to be lower and the Hispanic/White disparity tends to be higher. The association between a mandatory assessment policy and congregate care placement is in the expected direction. After describing the study limitations, we discuss implications for future research and policy.


W. T. Grant Foundation


Declaration of conflicts of interest


Corresponding author email

Lead author country

  • United States

Lead author institution

University of Chicago / Chapin Hall / Center for State Child Welfare Data

Human Participants

  • Yes

Ethics statement

The research reported was approved by the University of Chicago IRB. Consent was waived because the research presents no more than minimal risk to subjects, a waiver of informed consent will not adversely affect the rights and welfare of subjects, and it would be impracticable to carry out the research without a waiver. Research presents no more than minimal risk to subject's privacy.


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