Indiana University SPEA Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy University of Pennsylvania AIR American University

Panel Paper: Moving Beyond Silos: A Holistic Perspective of Vulnerable Youth Outcomes Using Administrative Data

Saturday, November 14, 2015 : 2:25 PM
Merrick II (Hyatt Regency Miami)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Maryanne Schretzman1, Jessica A Raithel1, Nebahat Noyan1, Eileen Johns1, Sara Workman2 and Andrew White2, (1)NYC Office of the Deputy Mayor for Health & Human Services, (2)NYC Administration for Children's Services
The transition period to adulthood is a particularly difficult time for most adolescents. This difficulty is magnified for youth in foster care or involved in the juvenile and/or criminal justice systems. Many youth in foster care have experienced numerous hardships throughout their lives, including maltreatment and family trauma, poverty, and multiple movements in placements, leading to disruptions in relationships and schooling. Similarly to foster care children, adolescents who become involved in the juvenile and/or criminal justice systems often have histories of early maltreatment and hardship that intensify problematic behaviors, leading to arrest and placement in detention or jail. These adolescents are at particular risk of recidivism and continued involvement in the justice systems. Youth who interact with both the foster care system and the justice system face even greater challenges and are at a greater risk for poor outcomes in adulthood. However, few studies have examined this “dually involved” population in detail.

This paper highlights findings from a new study that used administrative data to track adult outcomes of youth who exited foster care, exited the justice system (either juvenile detention or jail), and those who were dually involved during their adolescence. The study utilized data from NYC Health and Human Service (HHS) agencies to quantify service use (in the domains of housing, benefits, health, child welfare, and justice) over six years and to compare the associated costs among groups. 

For all three groups, the top quartile of highest cost users account for a disproportionate amount of the total group cost – from two-thirds to three-fourths of the total. For almost every outcome, the dually involved group had a higher rate of system involvement, as well as higher multi-system use. The average cost for the dually involved group was approximately 40% higher than the other two groups (approximately $65,000 for the dually involved, compared to $46,000-$48,000 for the other two groups).

This paper also highlights predictors of high cost users based on foster care history and demographic information. Risk factors for high-cost service use for the foster care group included being female, being discharged to mental health institutions, and having residential foster care placements. Risk factors for high-cost service use for the dually involved group included having more foster care spells, entering foster care for the first time in adolescence, and having residential foster care placements.

Findings of this study are informing new programming and policies for the NYC Administration for Children’s Services (ACS), which oversees both foster care and juvenile detention services. Specifically, ACS is using models and interventions that are based on a youth’s risk level to ensure that services are being allocated appropriately, including using risk assessment tools to place youth in alternatives to juvenile detention. Similarly, youth development models for at-risk adolescents are being developed to keep youth in community-based settings while receiving services.