Formal bonds during the transition to adulthood: extended foster care support and criminal/legal involvement

LEE Joann S., COURTNEY Mark E., HOOK Jennifer L.
Journal article citation:
Journal of Public Child Welfare, 6(3), July 2012, pp.255-279.
Taylor and Francis
Place of publication:
Philadelphia, USA

There is evidence that foster youth who remain in care past the age of 18 through to 21 years experience benefits in the areas of higher education, earnings and delayed pregnancy. This article explores whether these benefits also extend to involvement in crime and the legal system. The study used data from the Midwest Evaluation of the Adult Functioning of Former Foster Youth, a prospective study following 732 youth in their transitions from care. The Midwest Study consists of a sample of 17-year-old youth leaving the foster care system in 3 states, Illinois, Wisconsin, and Iowa. Four waves of data were collected, when the youth were aged 17, 19, 21 and 23 years. The data included 3 legal system involvement measures (arrested, convicted or incarcerated) and 4 illegal behaviour measures (violent crimes, property crimes, drug crimes and any crimes) as well as the youth’s care status. The study did not find evidence that remaining in care is associated with the likelihood of future criminal involvement for men. However, during the transition to adulthood, the odds of arrest for women still in care are significantly lower than for women who are no longer in care. In addition, the odds of incarceration and conviction are marginally significantly lower for women who remain in care.

Subject terms:
leaving care, longitudinal studies, young adults, crime, criminal justice, foster care, foster children, gender;
Content type:
United States
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