The Society for Social Work and Research

2013 Annual Conference

January 16-20, 2013 I Sheraton San Diego Hotel and Marina I San Diego, CA

Education and Employment Outcomes for Dual Status Youth Belonging to Both the Juvenile Justice System and the Child Welfare System

Friday, January 18, 2013: 3:00 PM
Marina 5 (Sheraton San Diego Hotel & Marina)
* noted as presenting author
Aditi Das, Doctoral Student, University of Chicago, Chicago, IL
Mark E. Courtney, PhD, Professor, University of Chicago, Chicago, IL
Purpose: Youth who have crossed over from the juvenile justice system into the child welfare system   constitute a disadvantaged, under served high-risk group. Juvenile justice youth in out-of-home placements experience educational interruption while incarcerated and have a history of learning disabilities, truancy, suspension, expulsion, and dropout, making it harder for them to transition back into school, further reducing their higher educational and occupational prospects (Altschuler,, 2009). Membership in the dual-status group is a strong and consistent predictor of less desirable future outcomes (Culhane, et al., 2011). Thus there is a growing recognition that juvenile justice and child welfare agencies must collaborate and address the complex needs of the crossover population as they transition into young adulthood.

Methods: Using longitudinal data from the Midwest Evaluation of the Adult Functioning of Former Foster Youth, baseline data collected at age 17-18 was used to predict education and employment outcomes at for the sample of 603 participants who were interviewed at 19-20 (82% of the baseline sample). Education at age 19-20 was categorized into youth who were (1) currently enrolled in higher education (2) not enrolled in higher education but had obtained their GED/ high school diploma (3) less than high school diploma/GED. Employment at age 19-20 was categorized as (1) currently employed (2) recently employed (currently unemployed but had worked in the past year) or (3) currently unemployed and had not worked in the past year. A multinomial logistic regression model examined the relationship between juvenile justice system involvement through incarceration (33% of the sample had been incarcerated prior to baseline) and future education and employment status, controlling for gender, race, foster care placement history, school achievement level, prior employment, state of origin and delinquent behavior. 

Results: After controlling for covariates, compared to foster youth who had no juvenile justice history, dual status youth had lower odds (OR = .367) of being currently enrolled in higher education and lower odds of having a high school diploma/GED (OR = .502) than of having no high school diploma or GED (p < .01). After controlling for covariates, a history of juvenile justice system involvement decreased the odds of current employment relative to no employment in the past year (OR= .529; p < .01) but did not increase the odds of recent employment compared to no employment in the past year.

Implications: Based on the study’s findings regarding the relative vulnerability of crossover youth, practioners and policymakers should take steps to identify this group as early as possible to provide them with targeted services and supports that would improve their education and employment outcomes, thereby improving their chances of making a successful transition to adulthood and life beyond the child welfare and juvenile justice systems.