Predictors of Adoption and Guardianship Dissolution: The Role of Race, Age, and Gender Among Children in Foster Care

Kierra M. P. Sattler, Sarah A. Font - Child Maltreatment


Adoption and guardianship are meant to provide permanency to foster children when reunification is not a viable option. Unfortunately, sometimes adoption and guardianship placements dissolve resulting in children returning to care. Currently, there is limited research on the prevalence and predictors of adoption and guardianship dissolutions. This study investigated rates of guardianship and adoption dissolution using a complete entry cohort from a large state foster care system and the associations between child characteristics and risk factors with dissolution. Drawing on a complete entry cohort of foster children in Texas that exited to either adoption or guardianship placements, results demonstrated that over 2% of adoptive placements and 7% of guardianship placements were dissolved. Compared with White and Hispanic children, Black children had a higher risk of guardianship, but not adoption, dissolution. Older age was associated with a higher risk of adoption dissolution, and females had a higher risk of guardianship dissolution than males. Behavior problems, cognitive disability status, and mental health issues were all associated with a higher risk of dissolution. These findings have important implications for caseworkers and policymakers on permanency for children in adoptive or guardianship placements.