Vol. 18, No. 2 • May 2014

Foster Care, Delinquent Behavior, and Juvenile Justice

It’s not a happy fact, but resource parents and child welfare professionals need to know: experiencing the trauma of abuse and neglect puts children at greater risk for getting into trouble with the law. Victims of child maltreatment are more likely than other children to be arrested as juveniles (27% vs. 17%) (CWLA, 2002).

Those who enter foster care are at even greater risk of juvenile justice involvement. Ryan and Testa (2005) found that about 16% of children placed into substitute care experience at least one delinquency petition, compared to 7% of maltreatment victims not removed from their families.

If they do become involved with the juvenile justice system, youth in foster care may face harsher treatment. Ryan and colleagues (2007) found youth whose delinquency cases originated in foster care were less likely to receive probation than youth not in foster care.

Now please understand: most children in foster care never break the law. But they do seem to be at greater risk of doing so than other children.

Given this, foster parents and kinship caregivers naturally want to know two things:

  1. How can I prevent youth in my care from getting involved with juvenile justice?
  2. What do I do if a child in my home is charged with a delinquent act?

This issue tries to give you clear, helpful answers to these and other questions about the intersection of foster care, delinquent behavior, and juvenile justice.

Our goal, as always, is to equip you with the knowledge and skills you need to achieve the best outcomes possible for the families and children you care so much about.

Download or print a pdf of this entire issue

Tips for Preventing Delinquent Behavior
Adolescent Brain Development: Implications for Parents
When the Police Knock at Your Door . . .
NC's Juvenile Justice System: Overview for Foster Parents

Juvenile Defenders: The Child's Voice in Juvenile Delinquency Proceedings

CFTs Can Help Us Build Better Futures for "Crossover" Youth

When Young People Get in Trouble with the Law
Advice from youth in foster care

SaySo Update

Afraid I'd Be Lost
What it was like being involved simultaneously in the foster care and juvenile justice systems

NC Child Treatment Program
Training Opportunities for Caregivers to Help Teens Transition to Adulthood
Raise the Age: Why It Matters
A message from the NC Foster and Adoptive Parent Association
Statistics on Juvenile Crimes
North Carolina Reclaiming Futures
A Reader Asks
What are agencies looking for when they conduct home assessments?
The Differences between Custody, Guardianship, and Adoption
Preventing and Responding to Runaways from Foster Care
Human Trafficking: What Foster Parents Should Know
Help Us Find Families for These Children
Writing Contest

References cited in this issue

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~ Family and Children's Resource Program, UNC-CH School of Social Work ~