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Neighborhood‐Based Foster Care: A Critical Examination of Location‐Based Placement Criteria

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Faced with large caseloads and poor outcomes for children, child welfare agencies across the country are developing new strategies for serving vulnerable families. Many of the recent approaches move the locus of services from centralized, distant bureaucracies to local neighborhoods, where families at risk are most likely to reside. Current innovations in part suggest that treatment interventions such as foster care should also be located in children's communities of origin. This article offers a critical examination of the neighborhood approach to foster care placement. Although neighborhood foster care placements have potential benefits for some children, the research reviewed here does not fully support the existence of these benefits for the development and well-being of many children. An evidence-based practice approach that takes into account many factors besides neighborhoods thus is more likely to produce beneficial outcomes for children placed in out-of-home care. © 2006 by The University of Chicago. All rights reserved.

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