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ERIC Number: EJ1205770
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2018
Pages: 25
Abstractor: As Provided
ISSN: EISSN-2155-5834
Understanding Health Risks for Adolescents in Protective Custody
Beal, Sarah J.; Nause, Katie; Crosby, Imani; Greiner, Mary V.
Journal of Applied Research on Children, v9 n1 Article 2 2018
Children in child welfare protective custody (e.g., foster care) are known to have increased health concerns compared to children not in protective custody. The poor health documented for children in protective custody persists well into adulthood; young adults who emancipate from protective custody report poorer health, lower quality of life, and increased health risk behaviors compared to young adults in the general population. This includes increased mental health concerns, substance use, sexually transmitted infections, unintended pregnancy, and HIV diagnosis. Identifying youth in protective custody with mental health concerns, chronic medical conditions, and increased health risk behaviors while they remain in custody would provide the opportunity to target prevention and intervention efforts to curtail poor health outcomes while youth are still connected to health and social services. This study leveraged linked electronic health records and child welfare administrative records for 351 youth ages 15 and older to identify young people in custody who were experiencing mental health conditions, chronic medical conditions, and health risk behaviors (e.g., substance use, sexual risk). Results indicate that 41.6% of youth have a mental health diagnosis, with depression and behavior disorders most common. Additionally, 41.3% of youth experience chronic medical conditions, primarily allergies, obesity, and vision and hearing concerns. Finally, 39.6% of youth use substances and 37.0% engage in risky sexual behaviors. Predictors of health risks were examined. Those findings indicate that women, those with longer lengths of stay and more times in custody, and those in independent living and conjugate care settings are at greatest risk for mental health conditions, chronic medical conditions, and health risk behaviors. Results suggest a need to ensure that youth remain connected to health and mental health safety nets, with particular attention needed for adolescents in care for longer and/or those placed in non-family style settings. Understanding who is at risk is critical for developing interventions and policies to target youth who are most vulnerable for increased health concerns that can be implemented while they are in custody and are available to receive services.
Children At Risk. 2900 Weslayan Street Suite 400, Houston, TX 77027. Tel: 713-869-7740; Fax: 713-869-3409; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS) (DHHS/NIH); National Institute on Drug Abuse (DHHS/PHS); National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities (NIMHD) (DHHS/NIH)
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Ohio
Grant or Contract Numbers: 5UL1TR00142503; K01DA04162001; R03MD01141901A1