Together for Short Lives
Call the Helpline 0808 8088 100

Serious Illness and End-of-Life Quality for US Foster Children: A National Study

Journal title
The American journal of hospice & palliative care
Publication year
Lindley, L. C.; Slayter, E. M.

BACKGROUND:: Of the nearly 500 000 children in foster care, several hundred children die each year. Their quality of life at end of life is a matter of their foster care experience. OBJECTIVES:: The purpose of this study was to investigate whether serious illness was associated with foster care placement outcomes. METHODS:: US foster care data from 2005 to 2015 were used. Children who were younger than 18 years with residence in the United States were included. Serious illness (ie, physical health, mental/behavioral health, developmental disabilities) was measured via the foster care files. Two foster care placement outcomes were created (ie, type of placement, placement instability). Using multinomial and logistic regressions, the influence of serious illness on placement outcomes was evaluated while controlling for demographic, geographic, prior trauma, and foster care support characteristics. RESULTS:: Fifty-seven percent of the children were placed with nonrelatives, 27% in group homes/institutions, and 17% with relatives. Twenty-eight percent experienced placement instability. Serious illness was significantly associated with nonrelative (relative risk ratio [RRR] = 1.97; 95% confidence interval [CI] = 1.58-2.45) and group home/institution placement (RRR = 2.67; 95% CI = 2.09-3.40). Serious illness was not significantly related to placement instability. Children with serious illness were no more likely than their peers to experience multiple foster care placements. CONCLUSIONS:: Foster care youth at end of life were more likely to be placed with nonrelatives or in group homes/institutions. They also did not experience the disruption and stress of being moved to multiple foster homes while seriously ill.

Research abstracts