Journal of Child and Family Studies

, Volume 19, Issue 1, pp 67–78 | Cite as

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
Original Paper


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.


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



We would like to thank Jay Ringle, Stephanie Ingram, and Tanya Shaw at the Girls and Boys Town National Research Institute and Jessica Hagaman, Annette Griffith, John Harper, and Bjorn Peterson at the University of Nebraska—Lincoln for their assistance in the coding and entry of youth data. In addition, we would like to thank the children and professionals at Girls and Boys Town for providing us with the opportunity to evaluate youth characteristics at departure.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Alexandra L. Trout
    • 1
  • M. Beth Chmelka
    • 2
  • Ronald W. Thompson
    • 2
  • Michael H. Epstein
    • 3
  • Patrick Tyler
    • 2
  • Robert Pick
    • 2
  1. 1.Center for At-Risk Children’s ServicesUniversity of Nebraska—LincolnLincolnUSA
  2. 2.Girls and Boys TownBoys TownUSA
  3. 3.Department of Special Education and Communication DisordersUniversity of Nebraska—LincolnLincolnUSA

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