Social Work

Date of this version


Document Type



foster care, voluntary foster care agreements, community-based services, disabilities



A voluntary foster care placement (sometimes referred to as a voluntary placement agreement) is an agreement, entered into without court involvement, between a state or county child welfare agency and a child's parents to place a child into out-of-home placement. When a child enters foster care through this type of placement, state and federal programs that cover children who enter child welfare due to a court order become the custodians of the voluntarily-placed-child's placement, care, and supervision. In this cross-sectional, exploratory study, data from the Adoption and Foster Care Reporting System (AFCARS) was used to examine the characteristics and experiences of children who enter foster care through a voluntary foster care agreement, and to compare them with those of children who enter foster care through a court order. Findings indicate that children who are placed through a voluntary placement agreement differ from children who enter through a court order in their personal characteristics, as well as in their placement settings, length of placement, and manner of discharge from foster care. This study provides a baseline for future research into this area of child welfare practice.



Published in

Children and Youth Services Review

Citation/Other Information

Hill, K. (2017). Prevalence, Experiences, and Characteristics of Children and Youth who Enter Foster Care through Voluntary Placement Agreements. Children and Youth Services Review, 74, 62-70.