The departure status of youth from residential group care: Implications for aftercare

Alexandra L. Trout, M. Beth Chmelka, Ronald W. Thompson, Michael H. Epstein, Patrick Tyler, Robert Pick

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

39 Scopus citations


Youth departing from out-of-home care settings face numerous challenges as they adapt to new settings or return to placements that have been unsuccessful in the past. Although several thousand youth face this transition annually, little is known about their specific needs and risks at departure. To better identify needs and risks, we evaluated the discharge data of 640 youth served in a residential group care setting by addressing the following questions: (a) to what settings do youth depart following a stay in residential group care, (b) what are the demographic, family, educational, behavioral, and departure characteristics of youth at departure, and (c) do these characteristics differ for youth departing to different levels of restrictiveness? Results indicate significant differences on youth characteristics based on levels of restrictiveness at departure placement. As one might expect, youth departing to more restrictive placements presented a broad host of challenges across domains, while those departing to less restrictive settings demonstrated fewer needs and departed with greater educational and behavioral gains. Results provide support for the development and planning of targeted aftercare programs designed to promote the short and long term functioning of youth served in out-of-home care.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)67-78
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Child and Family Studies
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2010


  • Aftercare
  • Departure status
  • Discharge
  • Out-of-home care
  • Residential group care

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Life-span and Life-course Studies


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