Foster care and the earned income tax credit
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Foster care is a source of significant costs to both governments and foster children. Policies that provide income support to households potentially reduce entry into foster care via reducing child maltreatment and improving child behavior. As part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act in 2009 (ARRA2009), the federal government expanded the earned income tax credit (EITC), which is an important income support program for low-income working households. Using state-level data, we investigate the impact of this EITC expansion on state-level foster care entry rates. Typically, states with state-level EITC match federal EITC spending at a specific rate, meaning that increases in federal EITC spending increase state-level spending as well. We find that expansion of EITC decreased foster care entry rates by 7.43% per year in states with a state-level EITC, relative to those without. In models that separately examine foster care entry rates by age of the child, we find that the ARRA2009 had different effects on foster care entry based on the child’s age. We find that ARRA2009 decreased foster care entry rates for children age 11–15 by nearly 12% in states with a state EITC and it decreased foster care entry rates for children age 16–20 by roughly 17% in states with a state EITC, relative to states without a state EITC.
KeywordsFoster care Earned Income Tax Credit American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 Difference-in-difference
JEL ClassificationI38 H31 J13
Compliance with ethical standards
Conflict of interest
The authors declare that they have no competing interests.
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