Library Header Image
LSE Theses Online London School of Economics web site

Performance based contracting as a policy tool for promoting timely exits from out-of-home care: a comparative analysis

Menozzi, Clare (2016) Performance based contracting as a policy tool for promoting timely exits from out-of-home care: a comparative analysis. PhD thesis, London School of Economics and Political Science.

Text - Submitted Version
Download (1MB) | Preview


Ever since the late 1950s, one of the main objectives of child protection policies in the United States has been to reduce the amount of time children spend in out-of-home care. For nearly four decades, policymakers have sought to achieve this goal primarily by providing various types of services to help children reunify with their parents more quickly. However, in recent years a new approach has emerged which emphasises the use of quantitative targets to expedite exits from care, even when this entails terminating parental rights or pursuing alternatives to family reunification such as child adoption. Since then, states have adopted very different policy approaches to promote timely exits from out-of-home care. Yet relatively few comparative studies have been undertaken to examine which approaches have yielded better outcomes. Further, the evidence base on whether some approaches may be associated with negative distortionary effects, particularly with regard to permanency outcomes, remains limited. In this research, I focus on performance-based contracting (PBC); a type of policy approach which links compensation of child welfare agencies to the achievement of specific quantitative targets. My analysis focuses on four states: two that have employed PBC to reduce the amount of time children spend in care—Illinois and North Carolina—and two that have not—New Jersey and Washington state, using multi-year, multi-state entry cohorts based on the Adoption and Foster Care Analysis and Reporting System (AFCARS). I find that PBC states recorded greater improvements in the timeliness of permanency outcomes compared to states that do not employ PBC during the period considered. I also find that compositional effects related to the race of children entering care and the type of placement setting chosen, in combination with other influences including secular trends, may play a part in shaping this outcome for particular groups. I am, however, unable to conclude whether these outcomes are the result of PBC alone or a combination of other factors, which I am not able to capture or control for with the data utilised. Further, my analysis cannot conclusively determine whether some of these outcomes might be accompanied by various distortionary effects, including “cherry picking” or other types of gaming. My research, however, does cast doubt on some of the “mechanisms” through which changes in the timeliness in permanency outcomes are achieved as well as raises the need for a more nuanced and complex theoretical framework to explain how PBC might shape the timeliness of permanency outcomes.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information: © 2016 Clare Menozzi
Library of Congress subject classification: H Social Sciences > HV Social pathology. Social and public welfare. Criminology
Sets: Departments > Social Policy
Supervisor: Sigle-Rushton, Wendy

Actions (login required)

Record administration - authorised staff only Record administration - authorised staff only


Downloads per month over past year

View more statistics