Goodman and Goldfarb are examining the relation between placement history and poverty in young adults who, as children, were removed from home by child protective services. Their research involves a longitudinal investigation into the consequences of childhood trauma; they have a unique and detailed data set on child maltreatment victims and a matched control group (total N = 733). These individuals were assessed as 3- to 17-year-olds in the 1990s for mental health, cognitive functioning, and trauma history, permitting researchers to address vital theoretical issues about the transmission of poverty.
The timeframe is particularly important because the 1990s marked a change in national policy regarding children removed from home in child protection actions. Specifically, national policy switched from focusing on reunification of the biological family to focusing on strict timelines for reunification efforts and then moving on to adoption. The research permits investigators to consider the outcome of the national policy away from reunification on the individual’s well-being. Well-being in this study includes measures of mental health, emotional regulation, and academic and economic status, including poverty indices.