June 2024

IZA DP No. 17057: Financial Incentives for Adoption and Kin Guardianship Improve Achievement for Foster Children

David Simon, Aaron Sojourner, Jon Pedersen, Heidi Ombisa Skallet

Difference-in-differences analysis of linked administrative data estimates effects of a Minnesota policy change that increased the payments to adoptive parents and kin guardians for children ages 6 and older, making them equal to what foster care payments were, but didn't for younger children. Equalizing payments raised average academic achievement by 31 percent of a standard deviation three years after foster children's cases started, raised the value of payments by about $2,000 per child during this period, raised the monthly chance of moving from foster care to adoption or kin guardianship by 29 percent, improved school stability, and reduced school suspensions.