The Unique Impact of Out-of-Home Placement and the Mediating Effects of Child Maltreatment and Homelessness on Early School Success

John Fantuzzo and Staci Perlman

July 2007

Increased national attention has underscored the importance of promoting educational well-being for children who have been placed in out-of-home care. This study, informed by a developmental epidemiology framework, examined the unique impact of out-of-home placement and the mediating effects of child maltreatment and homelessness on the academic achievement and school adjustment of an entire cohort of second grade children in a large urban school district. Data on birth risks, placement history, child maltreatment, and homelessness from birth through second grade were integrated across municipal agencies for over 11,000 second grade students. Multiple Logistic Regression analyses demonstrate that children with a history of out-of-home placement were at increased risk for poor literacy and science achievement controlling for demographics and birth risks. These children also evidenced significantly higher levels of behavior problems and school suspensions than children with no out-of-home placement history. Maltreatment and homelessness were found to have significant mediating effects on the relationship between out-of-home placement and children's educational well-being. Implications for policy and practice are discussed.

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