Date of Award


Document Type

Union College Only

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


Political Science

First Advisor

Phil Nicholas




care, foster, child’s, home, legal


Under federal law, the foster care system is responsible for protecting the safety and wellbeing of the children in state custody. Foster care is supposed to be a temporary solution, with children remaining in care only until they can return home safely or find another permanent home. This thesis examines whether the existing legal framework and its implementation is sufficient to ensure these outcomes. In order to understand why the foster care system operates in its present manner, I examined the legal roots of the modern foster care system. I identified three major legal reforms and examined the policy context that led to their enactment. Using the Foster Care 2007 dataset from the Adoption and Foster Care Analysis and Reporting System, I conducted a series of cross tabulations in SPSS. This statistical research explored to what extent a child’s race, disability, reason for being removed from his or her home and year of entry into foster care were associated with various outcomes. These outcomes included whether the child’s parental rights were terminated, what the child’s most recent permanency goal was, and where the child was last placed. The results indicate that some improvements have been made since the most recent reform went into effect, but they also indicate that many problems remain. The results were then used to propose additional policy reforms.