Identifying Predictive Indicators: The State of Washington Foster Care Home Study

Sonya Stevens, Richard Fiene, Daniel Blevins, Amber Salzer - Children and Youth Services Review


A mixed method correlational exploratory pilot was conducted in Washington State to determine items within the home study assessment that could be used as indicators to identify baseline requirements of the assessment and suggest anticipated depth (expansion or reduction) within the required topic(s). The purpose of the home study is to assess the caregiver(s)’ ability to provide a safe home, the quality of care needed by children and an environment that is nurturing, respectful and supportive. The goal of this study is to identify predicative indicators that will assist in the development of a home study that will increase consistency within home studies and decrease timeliness of completion.

The use of predictive indicators may have the potential to reduce subjective decision making as well as identify inconsistencies when determining the recommendation of approval or denial of a home study. Additionally, with a carefully designed home study system inclusive of predictive analytics, it is possible to reduce the amount of time an assessor uses to approve or deny a home study, saving agency time and resources. Finally, by using focused technical assistance with those applicants who need more or specific support, the use of predictive indicators may increase the success of timely placement and permanency goals. This mixed method study included a case review of 207 home studies where 19 primary and secondary themes emerged as significant. It lays the ground work for methods used to identify predictive elements within the assessment process. Preliminary results are provided along with further recommendations.