• The association between services and recidivism for adjudicated youth with behavioral health problems

      Winters, Andrew Madison; Bright, Charlotte Lyn
      Research consistently shows that a considerable proportion of adjudicated youth have substantial behavioral health problems; however, few studies compare a range of services for adjudicated youth with behavioral health problems and the association with continued offending. Therefore, the purpose of this longitudinal study is to explore the role of services for youth with behavioral health problems, comparing types of services, and the association with continued offending. The sample consisted of adjudicated youth who were placed in an out-of-home setting (N=2277). As such, placement type was used to explore the role of services. Survival analysis was employed to assess the time at risk for recidivism. Multivariate results suggest boys compared with girls, and youth from urban areas are more likely to recidivate, while older youth and youth who were adjudicated for a felony offense were less likely to recidivate. Youth with a high index of mental health problems had a 16% lower hazard of recidivating, and youth with a moderate and high index of aggression had greater than twice the hazard of recidivating. Youth who were placed in community-based residential programs were 24% less likely to recidivate compared with a more secure setting. As the length of placement increased youth were less likely to recidivate, and youth who had multiple placements were more likely to recidivate. This study is among a few studies comparing a range of services for adjudicated youth with behavioral health problems and strengthens the literature on out-of-home placements. Results suggest community-based placements may act as a buffer for continued offending and aggression problems significantly increase the likelihood of further offending. Furthermore, outcomes from this study suggest a tailored service approach for youth with aggression problems prior to justice involvement is needed. This study provides empirical knowledge for practitioners and policy makers by highlighting service pathways for adjudicated youth with behavioral health problems. Further research is needed to explore key decision entry points in the justice system in which services are most effective at reducing ongoing court involvement. Moreover, future research is needed to address how symptoms and services may differ by gender, race and ethnicity, and age.