Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2008, $163,408)
Youth aging out of the child welfare system represent a population at great risk for offending during early adulthood. This research will examine a sample of youth formerly placed in out-of-home care to understand how experiences within the child welfare system influence offending behaviors during the transition to adulthood. In particular, the project will examine how out-of-home placement experiences and receipt of independent living services affect the quality of social bonds that individuals acquire as they transition from the child welfare system into independent adulthood, and in turn, how these bonds influence offending patterns. The project team is also interested in understanding how race conditions these relationships. The proposed project will examine offending over time among a sample of 732 youth formerly placed in out-of-home care in Illinois, Iowa, and Wisconsin. Survey data regarding individual and family demographics, out-of-home care experiences, and offending behavior from respondents have now been collected over three waves when respondents were about 17, 19, and 21 years old. In addition, the project team will have access to official juvenile and criminal arrest records. Using these self-reported and official data, a series of bivariate and multivariate analyses will be conducted to determine direct, mediating, and moderating effects of out-of-home care experiences, social ties, race, and background factors on offending during the transition to adulthood.
The proposed research is particularly relevant to policy makers because although policies currently exist to aid youth in the transition out of foster care and into adulthood, there has been little examination of the effect of such policies in relation to criminal offending after leaving care. Examination of the perceived need for such services and the adequacy of the policy response could help guide thinking about how to prevent crime among all vulnerable youth during the transition to adulthood. The original grant application was for 3 years and included the collection of juvenile and criminal arrest records. The supplement award was made because the PI moved from the University of Chicago to the University of Washington. The amount of the supplement is the amount that was deobligated from the original grant and will be reobligated to this award. All of the data has been collected. The supplement covers the final year of the grant, covering the analyses, report writing, and preparation of the data for archiving.