Females under age 18 are the fastest-growing segment of the juvenile justice population and are at risk for negative co-occurring outcomes including drug abuse, HIV/STI risk, criminal behavior, and educational failure. As they enter young adulthood, this constellation of behaviors puts them at heightened risk for early parenthood and subsequent involvement in the child welfare system (for their parenting behaviors) and the adult corrections system (for criminal behaviors). Such system involvement is costly, and its prevention would be of great significance to public health;however, very little is known about factors leading to females'success/failure in young adulthood and factors that might prevent involvement in these two public systems. The proposed study would further our understanding of the pathways to and the prevention of HIV/STI risk, drug use, and child welfare and adult corrections involvement by following-up 166 women who participated in two randomized intervention trials aimed at reducing delinquency during adolescence. In the original studies, juvenile justice girls who had been referred for out-of-home placement due to chronic delinquency were randomly assigned to services as usual or to Multidimensional Treatment Foster Care (MTFC). Efficacy of the MTFC intervention with this sample has been shown at 12- and 24-month follow-ups on criminal referral rates, days spent in locked settings, deviant peer associations, and educational engagement. We propose to examine the developmental pathways for these juvenile justice girls into young adulthood (ages 21-28) using innovative data collection and data analytic techniques, with foci on the long-term effects of MTFC, the mediators of young adult adjustment and child welfare/corrections involvement, and the cost effectiveness and cost avoidance of MTFC on these outcomes. The overarching aim is to identify potential targets for subsequent intervention. One in-person assessment is proposed with each female and her current romantic partner (if she has one);in addition, telephone interviews will be conducted every 6 months for the duration of the study, and system data from child welfare and adult corrections will be collected.
Studies have shown that juvenile justice girls have high rates of co-occurring risk behaviors. In young adulthood, these behaviors increase the likelihood of involvement in public social service systems. We will examine the pathways to young adult adjustment among juvenile justice females, focusing on processes that reduce the likelihood of child welfare and adult corrections involvement and, ultimately, costs to society.
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