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What's New

Foster Care and Prison: Connecting the Right Dots

Foster Care and Prison: Connecting the Right Dots Full Webinar:


Connecting the Right Dots expressed an underlying issue of youth in foster care being connected to the juvenile justice or criminal justice systems. Speakers included Laura Bauer, who spoke on a non-scientific study she produced with Judy Thomas. This study was conducted in 12 different states on 6,000 inmates over the course of a year. Second, Sean Hughes spoke on the three levels of sectionality between child welfare and the criminal justice system. Third, Dr. Rebecca Pedo spoke on the effects of "Kids go in and kids go out" and her 2014 Padot book findings. Lastly, Greg McKay spoke on Arizona and child-welfare. Noting the "Cross over" that children may experience with foster care and the juvenile justice system.


Laura Bauer:

The non-scientific study Laura conducted with Judy Thomas took place in 12 states with 6,000 inmate volunteers. This study consisted of a 15-part questionnaire with an added written portion about their experience in foster care; this study wanted to discover the outcomes for children who were raised by the state/aged out. Study concluded that 1/4 inmates in the study were previously in foster care, with Kansas having the highest rate at 1/3 inmates were in foster care prior to being in prison.


Main Points:

  • Many children who age out do not know what to do when it happens.
  • Demonic a child who had 80 placements from ages 3-14 aged out of the foster care system.
    • He became homeless with nothing of his own.
    • He eventually turned to crime to survive.
  • 23,000 children age out of foster care, 4,000 of the 23,000 become homeless.

Sean Hughes:

Sean discussed the three levels of sectionality between child-welfare and the criminal justice system. These three levels included the correlation between maltreatment and the criminal justice system, the role of child-welfare and out of home care in response to trauma and critical supports youth need who emancipate themselves from foster care. 


Maltreatment and Criminal Justice:

This focused on a 2019 Children’s Data Network Study which consisted of 400,000 individuals who were 24 and under who were arrested in 2014-2015. 


Main Points:

  • 10% of this population had experienced foster care.

    • These children were 2.6x more likely to be involved with the criminal justice system.
  • 43.4% had child protective services involved in their life at some point.
  • 24.5% were subjected to un-substantiated allegations.
    • These children were 2x more likely to be involved with the criminal justice system.
  • 9.6% were subjected to substantiated allegations but were not placed in foster care.
    • These children were 2.3x more likely to be involved in the criminal justice system.


Role of Child-Welfare and Out of Home Care in Response to Trauma:

This focused on the Family First Prevention Services Act and the different impacts it will cause.


Main Points:

  • Extends the age range for Chafee independent living programs to 14-23.

    • Does not expand funding for Chafee.
  • Title IV-E funding will be available to use for mental health and substance abuse services for children in situations who are in immanent risk of entering foster care.
  • Only 4 types of congregate care programs will be eligible for federal funds.


Out of Homecare in Response to Trauma and Critical Supports Youth Need Who Emancipate Themselves from Foster Care:

This section focused on the impacts of emancipation on youth and connecting youth to career pathways.


Main Points:

  • At age 21, 7% of youth in foster care had been in the criminal justice system when compared to emancipated children who were involved at a rate of 23%.
  • 1/4 (23%) children who participated in federally funded transition services received employment or vocational training programs.
    • Study conducted by Annie E. Casey Foundation: Fostering Youth Transition


Dr. Rebecca Pedo:

Dr. Pedo. focused on how kids could be affected by "Kids go in and kids go out". While also looking at her 2014 Padot book findings on strong states and integrating children back into society.


Main Points: 

  • Kids go in relates to children with connections to the criminal justice system through a parent.

    • 2% of children with fathers who are in prison enter foster care.
    • 11% of children with mothers who are in prison enter foster care.
  • Kids go out relates to when children age out of foster care and may face the criminal justice system themselves.
  • Padot book findings...
    • Many areas that have a strong child-welfare system still face difficulties integrating children back into society such as Michigan and Delaware.

Padot Quotes from State Agencies:


Greg McKay:

Greg talked about the cross over between the juvenile justice system and foster care. This cross over discusses children being in the foster care system and juvenile justice system. He also discussed his experience in Arizona working with child-welfare.


Main Points:

  • "Foster Care systems treat parents not children"- Greg McKay
  • Judges in the state of Arizona repeatably used foster care for placement over the juvenile justice system.
    • Some were even placed in foster care when their home environments were satisfactory.
    • This limits space for other children who need a home.
  • Placing a child in foster care does not address the core problem as to why they got in trouble with the criminal justice system.