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Health-Risk Behaviors in Young Adolescents in the Child Welfare System

Authors
Journal
Journal of Adolescent Health
1054-139X
Publisher
Elsevier
Volume
47
Issue
1
Identifiers
DOI: 10.1016/j.jadohealth.2009.12.032
Keywords
  • Child Welfare
  • Foster Care
  • Pediatrics
  • Health-Risk Behaviors
  • Sexuality
  • Depression
  • Substance Use
  • Delinquency
Disciplines
  • Criminology
  • Law
  • Medicine

Abstract

Abstract Purpose To examine rates and patterns of health-risk behavior (e.g., sexuality, depression/suicidality, substance use, delinquency) among a national probability sample of youth active to the child welfare/child protective services system. Recent federal legislation, P.L. 110-351, encourages child welfare systems, Medicaid, and pediatric experts to collaborate to ensure youth entering foster care receive comprehensive health examinations. Methods Analysis of baseline caregiver, caseworker, and child interviews, and assessment data for a subsample (n = 993) of youth, aged 11–15 years, from the National Survey of Child and Adolescent Well-Being, a national probability sample of children and adolescents undergoing investigation for abuse or neglect. Results Almost half of the sample (46.3%) endorsed at least one health-risk behavior. On Poisson multivariate regression modeling, factors related to higher rates of health-risk behaviors included older age, female gender, abuse history, deviant peers, limited caregiver monitoring, and poor school engagement. Conclusion Given the heightened vulnerability of this population, early screening for health-risk behaviors must be prioritized. Further research should explore specific subpopulations at risk for health-risk behaviors and possible interventions to change these youths' trajectories.

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