This study examines the financial outcomes in adulthood of Hispanics (N = 87) and White (Non-Hispanic, N = 498) persons placed in foster care during childhood. It uses the Casey Family Programs National Alumni Study (CFPNAS) database. Path models including predictors such as gender, education, having a partner, preparation for leaving care, and problem characteristics yielded predominantly similar effects for Hispanic and White Non-Hispanic respondents. The direct effect of physical and mental health conditions such as physical or learning disability, visual or hearing impairments, or DSM disorders more strongly predicted negative outcomes for White (Non-Hispanic) respondents than for Hispanic ones.

Key Take Away Points

Key Points

This study observes the pathway of predictors that forecasts economic well-being in adulthood for Hispanics in contrast to Non-Hispanic White adults who have grown up in foster care.

  • Higher household income among adults with foster care placement experiences in childhood is predicted by the combination of being a male, having a higher level of education, having fewer problem characteristics, and having a partner.
  • Being a male predicts higher household income
  • Being a female reduces the likelihood of obtaining greater education and higher household income.
  • Physical and mental health conditions such as physical or learning disability, visual or hearing impairments, or DSM disorders resulted in less damaging impact in household income for Hispanics compared to Non-Hispanic Whites adults.

Author Biography

Dr. Susy Villegas is an assistant professor at the School of Social Work at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley. Her research interests include the outcomes of Latino/Hispanic adults with childhood experiences of out-of-home care, and the cultural and contextual factors related to reproductive health and teen pregnancy in Latino/Hispanic populations. She holds Clinical Social Worker licenses in Oklahoma and Texas. Jim Rosenthal is Professor Emeritus at the Anne and Henry Zarrow School of Social Work at the University of Oklahoma. His research interests are in foster care, adoption, alternatives to placement, children’s mental health, program evaluation, and social research methods. Mónica M. Alzate is a scholar-practitioner with a PhD in Social Work and is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker. She is Assistant Professor in the Department of Family and Community Medicine (FCM) at Baylor College of Medicine where she provides mental health services to a diverse population, participates in FCM’s multidisciplinary research team through the implementation of service grants, and conducts research. She started her social work career as a child welfare worker. Kirk O'Brien, Ph.D., is a director in Research Services at Casey Family Programs in Seattle, Washington, where he has worked since 2001. His primary responsibilities include managing, evaluating, and providing consultation on studies of youth in and alumni formerly in foster care, and studies evaluating strategies to help youth exit foster care by safely achieving permanence. Dr. O’Brien coordinated the National Alumni Study and the Northwest Alumni Study, both of which have contributed significantly to the knowledge base of outcomes for youth formerly in foster care. Dr. Peter J. Pecora has a joint appointment as the Managing Director of Research Services for Casey Family Programs, and Professor, School of Social Work, University of Washington.


We express our appreciation to the Casey Family Programs’ alumni and foster parents for their support of this research.