Society for Social Work and Research

Sixteenth Annual Conference Research That Makes A Difference: Advancing Practice and Shaping Public Policy
11-15 January 2012 I Grand Hyatt Washington I Washington, DC

4P The Effects of Characteristics of Group Home On Juvenile Delinquency

Friday, January 13, 2012
Independence F - I (Grand Hyatt Washington)
* noted as presenting author
Yu Ling Chiu, MSW, Doctoral Student, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Urbana, IL
Hui Huang, MA, Doctoral Student, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Urbana, IL
Joseph P. Ryan, PhD, Associate Professor, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Urbana, IL
Purpose: The 2003 report of Children's Bureau indicated an appropriate placement is a family setting rather than a group home or institution (DHHS, 2011). Group home is relative restrictive, and is more likely to be associated with negative outcomes, such as juvenile delinquency. Of 463,000 children placed out of home in 2008, only 6% was in the group home (DHHS, 2011). Ryan et, al. (2008) report that children in group homes are approximately 2.5 times as likely to experience a juvenile arrest as compared with similar youth in foster care. Yet, few studies examine which characteristics of group homes contribute to the risk of juvenile arrest. To address this gap in the knowledge base, we investigate the impact of group home characteristics, such as facility size and the aggregate demographic composition, on the likelihood of subsequent juvenile arrests. Methods and Results: We use child welfare and juvenile justice administrative records from a large and diverse Midwestern city To understand the individual characteristics and the group home characteristics, we use hierarchical linear modeling (HLM). Our sample includes 91 group homes and 603 children. The sample is 58% African American, 35% White, and 45% male. The average age is fifteen. The average length of stay in the out-of-home placements is over five months. Forty-two percent of children have at least one arrest before being placed in the group home, and 32% of them have at least one arrest after entering group home. The mean of accommodation is nine.. Our HLM analysis indicated that African American, males, and prior offenders have greater risk of arrest after entering group home. Younger children are more likely associated with arrest. However, the length of stay (days) in the out-of-placement associated with slightly smaller risk of arrest (OR=.99, p<.05). At the group home level, the relative risk ratio of arrest is higher for the group home with higher percentage of prior offenders (OR=1.01, p<.05). Higher percentage of children from residential placements decreases the likelihood of arrest (OR=0.99, p<.01). Neither the size nor the demographic compositions of group home are significant predictors in this model.

Conclusions: The findings indicate the influences of both child level and agency level on the recidivism of juvenile arrest. More specifically, higher percentage of prior offenders in group home increases the likelihood of arrest, even with controlling each individual's own offending history. Our findings could lead further discussions on the peer influence since deviant peer contagion has been considered as negative characteristics in group home (Dishion, McCord, & Poulin, 1999). Living with prior offenders can jeopardize one's own decision-making. The current model informs the assumption by examining the interaction between group home placements and the characteristics of the individual adolescents. Although we only included several factors in the group home level due to the limitation of secondary data source, the children in the setting of group home do share similar qualities and those nested effects increase the likelihood of delinquent behavior in the future.