© 2020

Foster Care and Best Interests of the Child

Integrating Research, Policy, and Practice


Part of the SpringerBriefs in Psychology book series (BRIEFSPSYCHOL)

Also part of the Advances in Child and Family Policy and Practice book sub series (ACFPP)

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xix
  2. Sarah A. Font, Elizabeth T. Gershoff
    Pages 1-19
  3. Sarah A. Font, Elizabeth T. Gershoff
    Pages 39-58
  4. Sarah A. Font, Elizabeth T. Gershoff
    Pages 59-81
  5. Sarah A. Font, Elizabeth T. Gershoff
    Pages 83-99
  6. Back Matter
    Pages 101-103

About this book


This brief examines the U.S. foster care system and seeks to explain why the foster care system functions as it does and how it can be improved to serve the best interest of children. It defines and evaluates key challenges that undermine child safety and well-being in the current foster care system. Chapters highlight the competing values and priorities of the system as well as the pros and cons for the use of foster care. In addition, chapters assess whether the performance objectives in which states are evaluated by the federal government are sufficient to achieve positive health and well-being outcomes for children who experience foster care. Finally, it offers recommendations for improving the system and maximizing positive outcomes.

Topics featured in this brief include: 

  • Legal aspects of removal and placement of children in foster care.
  • The effectiveness of prior efforts to reform foster care.
  • The regulation and quality of foster homes.
  • Support for youth aging out of the foster care system.
  • Racial and ethnic disparities in the foster care system.

Foster Care and the Best Interests of the Child is a must-have resource for policy makers and related professionals, graduate students, and researchers in child and school psychology, family studies, public health, social work, law/criminal justice, and sociology.


Adoption and foster care Child maltreatment and foster care Child protection and foster care Child well-being and foster care Class biases and foster care Culture and foster care Emotional health and foster care Family preservation and foster care Family reunification and foster care Foster care policies and practices Kinship placements and foster care Legal parameters and foster care placement Mental health and foster care Nonrelative placements and foster care Parental rights and foster care Racial biases and foster care Safety, permanency, & well-being goals of foster care Siblings and foster care Social policy and foster care Social work and foster care

Authors and affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Sociology and CriminologyPennsylvania State UniversityUniversity ParkUSA
  2. 2.Department of Human Development and Family SciencesUniversity of Texas at AustinAustinUSA

About the authors

Sarah A. Font, Ph.D., is an Assistant Professor at Pennsylvania State University in the Department of Sociology and Criminology and is a faculty member of the Child Maltreatment Solutions Network. Her research focuses on how the child protective services and foster care systems work to further or undermine child well-being. She holds a Ph.D. in Social Welfare from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Elizabeth T. Gershoff, Ph.D., is a Professor of Human Development and Family Sciences and is Associate Director of the Population Research Center, both at the University of Texas at Austin. She has published extensively on the topic of physical punishment and is an internationally recognized expert on the effects that physical punishment by parents or by school personnel has on children. She earned her Ph.D. in Child Development from the University of Texas at Austin.

Bibliographic information

  • Book Title Foster Care and Best Interests of the Child
  • Book Subtitle Integrating Research, Policy, and Practice
  • Authors Sarah A. Font
    Elizabeth T. Gershoff
  • Series Title SpringerBriefs in Psychology
  • Series Abbreviated Title SpringerBriefs in Psychology
  • DOI
  • Copyright Information The Author(s), under exclusive license to Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020
  • Publisher Name Springer, Cham
  • eBook Packages Behavioral Science and Psychology Behavioral Science and Psychology (R0)
  • Softcover ISBN 978-3-030-41145-9
  • eBook ISBN 978-3-030-41146-6
  • Series ISSN 2192-8363
  • Series E-ISSN 2192-8371
  • Edition Number 1
  • Number of Pages XIX, 103
  • Number of Illustrations 2 b/w illustrations, 3 illustrations in colour
  • Topics Child and School Psychology
    Public Health
  • Buy this book on publisher's site


“This book is very good because it provides a brief summary of the foster care system in the United States and improvements that can be made. … Readers will be pleasantly surprised by how the book will provoke discussion and hopefully result in positive changes in a system that is currently overwhelmed in many states.” (Gary B Kaniuk, Doody's Book Reviews, September 25, 2020)