Study: Troubled homes better than foster care

Children whose families are investigated for abuse or neglect are likely to do better in life if they stay with their families than if they go into foster care, according to a pioneering study.  The findings intensify a vigorous debate in child welfare: whether children are better served with their families or away from them.

Kids who stayed with their families were less likely to become juvenile delinquents or teen mothers and more likely to hold jobs as young adults, says the study by Joseph Doyle, an economics professor at MIT's Sloan School of Management who studies social policy.

FAMILY INFLUENCE:  Children who stay in troubled families fare better than those put into foster care. Those who:

 Were arrested at least once:
• Stayed with family: 14%
• Went to foster care: 44%

Became teen mothers:
• Stayed with family: 33%
• Went to foster care: 56%

Held a job at least 3 months:
• Stayed with family: 33%
• Went to foster care: 20%