Roughly 500,000 children reside in the foster care system, and over 20,000 age out of the system each year without ever finding a permanent home. We consider the effect of legal representation for foster youth on the probability of adoption. Exploiting temporal variation in state-level statutes that mandate that a foster child has legal representation in dependency proceedings, we find that mandated representation induces earlier adoptions, with the probability of adoption within two years of entry into foster care increasing 13 percent. Conditional on adoption, legal counsel also leads to a decrease in the probability of short-term foster care reentry. We find no evidence that children are any more likely to be adopted due to representation.
The Effect of Antibullying Laws on Suicidality and Drug Use
We examine how state antibullying laws influence bullying related mental health outcomes. Specifically, we focus teen suicidalty and substance use, as the rates of both continue to climb among teens. Using data from the Youth and Risk Behavior Surveys, and the Multiple Cause-of-Death files, we find that overall such laws are associated with five-percent reductions in teen sucidality, with results driven by male students. However, we also find suggestive evidence that existing mental health resources in schools may be being displaced, as the more-expensive components of antibullying laws are associated with increases the probability of illicit drug use and suicide.
Works in Progress
Differential Response System and Child Welfare Outcomes (with Glen Waddell)
Drug Laws, Child Maltreatment, and Foster Care Entry (with Glen Waddell)
Child Protective Services' Response to Public Disclosure Laws
Distracted Driving and the Incidence of Automobile Accidents (with Ben Hansen,Tristan Nighswander, and Ariel Roddy)
Economic Conditions and Hate Crimes