Journal of Child and Family Studies

, Volume 19, Issue 4, pp 525–535 | Cite as

Risk Profiles of Children Entering Residential Care: A Cluster Analysis

  • Jessica L. Hagaman
  • Alexandra L. Trout
  • M. Beth Chmelka
  • Ronald W. Thompson
  • Robert Reid
Original Paper


Children in residential care are a heterogeneous population, presenting various combinations of risks. Existing studies on these children suggest high variability across multiple domains (e.g., academics, behavior). Given this heterogeneity, it is important to begin to identify the combinations and patterns of multiple risks, or risk profiles, these children present. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the academic and behavioral risk profiles of children entering residential care. Cluster analysis procedures using academic and behavior variables revealed three distinct profiles of children: Group 1: Average Janes, characterized by average academic skills, no behavior problems, and some demographic risks; Group 2: Academic Risks, characterized by low academics and increased rule-breaking behavior; and finally Group 3: Behavioral Risks, characterized by average academics and elevated behaviors. These preliminary finding are discussed along with limitations, directions for future research, and implications.


Residential care Risk factors Cluster analysis Out-of-home care Risk profiles 



This research was supported by Grant number H325D040020 from the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs and R324B070034 from the U.S. Department of Education, Institute for Education Science. The statements in this manuscript do not necessarily represent the views of the U.S. Department of Education. We would also like to thank Annette Griffith, Katy Casey, Susan Kutilek, Kati Luschen, and Nichole Fetrow for their assistance with data collection; Cal Garbin for assistance with data analysis; and Kristin Duppong-Hurley, Michael Epstein, the principals and staff at Boys Town middle and high schools, and staff at Boys Town’s NRI office.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jessica L. Hagaman
    • 1
  • Alexandra L. Trout
    • 2
  • M. Beth Chmelka
    • 3
  • Ronald W. Thompson
    • 3
  • Robert Reid
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Special EducationUniversity of Wisconsin-WhitewaterWhitewaterUSA
  2. 2.Department of Special EducationUniversity of Nebraska-LincolnLincolnUSA
  3. 3.National Research InstituteBoys TownUSA

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