Electronic Theses and Dissertations



Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Educational Psychology & Research

Committee Chair

Leigh Harrell-Williams

Committee Member

Yonghong J Xu

Committee Member

Patrick D Murphy

Committee Member

Karen W Kitchens


In 2019, only about one-quarter of Tennessee children in out-of-home placements exited care to permanent living situations. This study examined factors associated with those permanent exits and with the amount of time spent in out-of-home placements. Utilizing a sample of 3,499 episodes of care (representing 3,173 unique children and youth) from a statewide, private provider of services, the following questions were addressed through multilevel modeling: Which factors are associated with exits to permanency within 12 months of entry into out-of-home care? Which factors are associated with the amount of time a child spends in care? Do these associations vary by the regional office of the Department of Children’s Services (DCS)? An additional, non-nested, exploratory question addressed whether there were identifiable patterns of services along a continuum of intensity levels, and whether there were differences, by pattern, in the duration and outcome of services. The child’s age at the start of the episode, number of placement moves, and receipt of prior services from the provider are predictive of both exits to permanency and time spent in care. Female gender, a history of abuse/neglect, and year of entry are associated with time in care only. Neglect and the interactions of age by race and age by first placement are significant predictors of exits to permanency only. No effects of DCS region were found. Four distinct patterns of services within episodes were identified, and are associated with duration of services. Comparisons with the literature and implications for further research and practice are discussed.


Data is provided by the student.

Library Comment

Dissertation or thesis originally submitted to ProQuest


Embargoed until 4/25/2025

Available for download on Friday, April 25, 2025