Abstract: Youth Characteristics and Predominant Placement Type between Age 18 and 21 (Society for Social Work and Research 25th Annual Conference - Social Work Science for Social Change)

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Youth Characteristics and Predominant Placement Type between Age 18 and 21

Wednesday, January 20, 2021
* noted as presenting author
Huiling Feng, MSW, Doctoral student, University of Chicago, Chicago, IL
Nathanael Okpych, PhD, Assistant Professor, University of Connecticut, Hartford, CT
Mark Courtney, PhD, Professor, University of Chicago, Chicago, IL
Background and Purpose: Providing appropriate housing options has been a critical focus of extended foster care (EFC). In California, new placement options were created in recognition of youths’ developmental and housing needs. Supervised Independent Living Placements (SILP) are intended for youth prepared to live with minimal oversight, while Transitional Housing Placement for Non-Minor Dependents (THP-NMD) are intended to provide structured support for youth who need more assistance, supervision, and support. Previous studies have largely focused on correlates of placement types among minors in care (e.g., Courtney, 1998; James, Landsverk, & Slymen, 2004; Palmer et al., 2020). The present study takes an early look at youth beyond age 21, examining factors associated with the predominant placement type that youth reside in between age 18 and 21, focusing specifically on SILPs and THP-NMDs.

Methods: The current study draws on data from California state administrative data and the baseline interviews of the CalYOUTH Study. The first sample from state administrative data includes youths who turned 18 between 2012 to 2014 and spent at least two years in EFC after age 18 (n=5,333). This large sample allows us to view how youths’ characteristics differ across placements using the overall population of youths in extended care. The second sample includes CalYOUTH Study participants who spent at least two years in extended foster care after age 18 (n=488). This smaller sample allows us to investigate rich sets of predictors collected from CalYOUTH interviews. Binary logistic regression was used to examine a wide range of factors as predictors of youths’ placement type in EFC (0= SILP, 1= THP-NMD).

Results: Overall, SILPs and THP-NMDs were the most common EFC placement types (SILP [59%] and THP-NMD [18%] in the administrative data sample). Regression analysis results suggest that African American youth are more likely than White youth to stay in THP-NMDs. Compared to youth in rural counties, youth in large urban counties and Los Angeles County are less likely to reside in THP-NMDs than SILPs. Youth placed in kinship care before age 18 and youth who left care after their 18th birthday and reentered had increased odds of staying in SILPs. Furthermore, having been placed in congregate care before age 18, frequent placement changes, having a vision or hearing impairment, having other medical conditions, and having one or more living children before the baseline interview were found to increase the odds of staying in THP-NMDs rather than SILPs.

Conclusions and Implications: This is one of the first studies to investigate factors associated with the type of placement youth. While we found that youth who show a relatively greater need for supportive services are more likely than their peers to spend time in supportive housing programs, the two groups do not exhibit starkly different backgrounds. This suggests that some youths residing in SILPs may benefit from more support than is currently available to them. Child welfare workers should consider the assessment of youth’s capacity to live independently and strive to assist youth in acquiring placement settings that best meet their needs.