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Rethinking the role of early care and education in foster care


  • Meloy, Mary Elizabeth
  • Phillips, Deborah A.


Service integration for foster children has recently improved following scholarly recommendations (Shonkoff & Phillips, 2001) that sparked federal action to integrate child welfare services with intervention services for children with special needs, as well as with local education and Medicaid agencies (P.L. 110-351, 2008). However, integration with early care and education (ECE) has lagged behind despite the potential of such efforts to help child welfare agencies fulfill their mandate to ensure children's safety, permanency, and well-being (P.L. 105-89, 1997). Research aimed at informing the integration of ECE and foster care is also lacking, as these two areas of investigation have developed along largely parallel tracks. The purpose of this paper is to provide a framework for understanding the potential roles that ECE can play within the foster care system that can, in turn, guide a systematic, policy-focused research agenda. We introduce the paper with a discussion of federal policy barriers to ECE and child welfare service integration, and close with a specific recommendation that the Children's Bureau and the Office of Child Care take steps to encourage research aimed at filling the knowledge gap at the intersection of these two core services for vulnerable children and families.

Suggested Citation

  • Meloy, Mary Elizabeth & Phillips, Deborah A., 2012. "Rethinking the role of early care and education in foster care," Children and Youth Services Review, Elsevier, vol. 34(5), pages 882-890.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:cysrev:v:34:y:2012:i:5:p:882-890 DOI: 10.1016/j.childyouth.2012.01.012

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Barbee, Anita P. & Antle, Becky, 2011. "Cost effectiveness of an integrated service delivery model as measured by worker retention," Children and Youth Services Review, Elsevier, vol. 33(9), pages 1624-1629, September.
    2. Foster, E. Michael & Stephens, Robert & Krivelyova, Anna & Gamfi, Phyllis, 2007. "Can system integration improve mental health outcomes for children and youth?," Children and Youth Services Review, Elsevier, vol. 29(10), pages 1301-1319, October.
    3. Marsh, Jeanne C. & Smith, Brenda D. & Bruni, Maria, 2011. "Integrated substance abuse and child welfare services for women: A progress review," Children and Youth Services Review, Elsevier, vol. 33(3), pages 466-472, March.
    4. Lipscomb, Shannon T. & Pears, Katherine C., 2011. "Patterns and predictors of early care and education for children in foster care," Children and Youth Services Review, Elsevier, vol. 33(11), pages 2303-2311.
    5. James J. Heckman & Dimitriy V. Masterov, 2007. "The Productivity Argument for Investing in Young Children," Review of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 29(3), pages 446-493.
    6. Ehrle, Jennifer & Geen, Rob, 2002. "Kin and non-kin foster care--findings from a National Survey," Children and Youth Services Review, Elsevier, vol. 24(1-2), pages 15-35.
    7. Brown, Jason D. & Rodger, Susan, 2009. "Children with disabilities: Problems faced by foster parents," Children and Youth Services Review, Elsevier, vol. 31(1), pages 40-46, January.
    8. Coakley, Tanya M. & Cuddeback, Gary & Buehler, Cheryl & Cox, Mary Ellen, 2007. "Kinship foster parents' perceptions of factors that promote or inhibit successful fostering," Children and Youth Services Review, Elsevier, vol. 29(1), pages 92-109, January.
    9. Magnuson, Katherine A. & Ruhm, Christopher & Waldfogel, Jane, 2007. "Does prekindergarten improve school preparation and performance?," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 26(1), pages 33-51, February.
    10. Puddy, Richard W. & Jackson, Yo, 2003. "The Development of Parenting Skills in Foster Parent Training," Children and Youth Services Review, Elsevier, vol. 25(12), pages 987-1013, December.
    11. Trout, Alexandra L. & Hagaman, Jessica & Casey, Kathryn & Reid, Robert & Epstein, Michael H., 2008. "The academic status of children and youth in out-of-home care: A review of the literature," Children and Youth Services Review, Elsevier, vol. 30(9), pages 979-994, September.
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    Cited by:

    1. Mortensen, Jennifer A. & Barnett, Melissa A., 2016. "The role of child care in supporting the emotion regulatory needs of maltreated infants and toddlers," Children and Youth Services Review, Elsevier, vol. 64(C), pages 73-81.
    2. Lipscomb, Shannon T. & Lewis, Kendra M. & Masyn, Katherine E. & Meloy, Mary Elizabeth, 2012. "Child care assistance for families involved in the child welfare system: Predicting child care subsidy use and stability," Children and Youth Services Review, Elsevier, vol. 34(12), pages 2454-2463.
    3. Meloy, Mary Elizabeth & Lipscomb, Shannon T. & Baron, Madeline J., 2015. "Linking state child care and child welfare policies and populations: Implications for children, families, and policymakers," Children and Youth Services Review, Elsevier, vol. 57(C), pages 30-39.
    4. Kovan, Nikki & Mishra, Shweta & Susman-Stillman, Amy & Piescher, Kristine N. & LaLiberte, Traci, 2014. "Differences in the early care and education needs of young children involved in child protection," Children and Youth Services Review, Elsevier, vol. 46(C), pages 139-145.


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