In the search for the right counterfactual for guardianship with kin

The best exit route for children in care is still far from being identified and universally agreed. Some argue that adoption is the best solution but what happens when adoption is not feasible? Apart from the long-term foster care, who has always been an option, although not a good one, another option is guardianship. Is guardianship better than other exit routes?

A recently published new article explores which counterfactual should be used for guardianship, for comparisons to be meaningful and robust. More particularly, Rolock and White (2017) examine two counterfactuals for guardianship as a permanent placement type:  adoption only and adoption or long-term foster care.  The results show that children with a guardianship arrangement have a higher risk of discontinuity than adopted children, but when the same children are compared to those who are either adopted or in long term foster care, then the proportion of discontinuity is the same. 

The article makes two important suggestions. Firstly, simply matching guardianship to adoption does not reflect the complete set of counterfactuals. Secondly, guardianship might not be the best option for a child if the child can be adopted, but it can be a potential solution for children in long-term foster care whose care givers are not planning to adopt.