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Problems and Needs of Juvenile Court Wards in Oregon

NCJ Number
Date Published
96 pages
To comprehensively survey the service needs of juvenile court wards in Oregon, researchers conducted a telephone survey of all 35 juvenile department directors and/or their assistant directors; performed a census, via mailed questionnaires, of all juvenile department caseloads in each county; and administered a questionnaire to a sample of 500 of Oregon's juvenile court wards.
Results of the 1984 study indicate that most wards are males and disproportionately black and Hispanic in comparison to the general population. The average age is l3.4 years. Court wards had families with relatively low total yearly incomes. The families moved around a lot and were often single-parent families. Slightly over half of the wards (50.7 percent) were first made wards because of a series of actions that required court supervision or intervention. On the average, these wards had 3.l juvenile court contacts or referrals before their current wardships. The wards often had significant family problems (physical or sexual abuse present, parental neglect or noninvolvement with the child, parental dysfunction). Many of the wards were verbally antagonistic against the parents. Wards also displayed some school problems. An analysis of treatment needs indicated that although needs for primary services were largely for school-related programs and mental and nonmental health day care, programs which would allow the child to remain at home, wards tended to be placed in out-of-home treatment. The most predominant service was post adjudication treatment. Secondary needs were greatest for counseling and for support services such as big brother and big sister kinship programs. Yet protective services were the most common secondary service provided. The report recommends that future research should investigate the needs of particular subgroups of wards (those needing out-of-home placement, those needing supervision rather than juvenile court case management, those with previous out-of-home placement and/or training school commitment status, and those with significant statuses or backgrounds). Study instruments are provided.