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Substitute Care in Child Welfare and the Risk of Arrest: Does the Reason for Placement Matter?

NCJ Number
Child Maltreatment Volume: 17 Issue: 2 Dated: May 2012 Pages: 164-171
Joseph P. Ryan
Date Published
May 2012
8 pages
This study investigates the experiences and outcomes of youth placed for abuse, neglect, and/or child behavioral problems.
The author has focused on youth entering care for reasons of maltreatment and for child behavioral problems. The author stratified the sample based on a history of juvenile delinquency. The sample was diverse and included youth between 8 and 16 years of age with at least one episode in a substitute care child welfare setting (n = 5,528). Approximately 23 percent of youth were placed in child welfare for reasons others than maltreatment; specifically child behavioral problems. Youth placed for behavioral problems were significantly more likely to live in congregate care facilities, experience placement instability, and more likely to experience at least one arrest. A prevailing argument is that child welfare offers a broader range of family-based services as compared with the secure settings of juvenile justice. High rates of congregate care placement reported in the current study indicate that family-based services are infrequently associated with youth placed for behavioral problems in child welfare. High rates of subsequent arrest indicate that the congregate care approach for youth with behavioral problems in child welfare is limited. Abstract published by arrangement with Sage Journals.