Crime During the Transition to Adulthood
Gretchen Ruth Cusick, Principal Investigator
Young people formerly involved with the child welfare system represent a population facing a multitude of challenges during the transition to adulthood. Although the transition to adulthood has arguably become a more difficult period for all youth, it is particularly difficult for youth aging out of the child welfare system. Compared with the general population, young people who lived in out-of-home care have higher rates of involvement with the criminal justice system. However, little is known about how the experience of out-of-home care is related to these offending patterns.
Funded by the National Institute of Justice, this project will examine self-reported criminal behavior and official arrests among a sample of young people who have aged out of the child welfare systems in Illinois, Iowa, and Wisconsin. Survey data from the Midwest Evaluation of Adult Outcomes of Former Foster Youth, will be linked to official (i.e., adult) arrest and conviction records.
This study addresses whether offending patterns among youth formerly placed in out-of-home care differ from those of the general population during the transition to adulthood. It asks how experiences within the child welfare system, including various placement experiences, the receipt of independent living services, and staying in care past age 18, are related to criminal and deviant behavior among youth leaving out-of-home care. Finally, it addresses the question of how experiences during out-of-home care are related to the development of social support and connections during the early transition to adulthood that may discourage deviant behavior. In particular, the relative importance of connections to parents and caregivers, educational and employment settings, and the child welfare system in reducing criminal behavior and the risk of arrest are examined.