Journal of Child and Family Studies

, Volume 20, Issue 1, pp 48–56 | Cite as

Use of Out-of-Home Care Among a Statewide Population of Children and Youth Enrolled in Medicaid

  • Jonathan D. BrownEmail author
  • Morris Hamilton
  • Brenda Natzke
  • Henry T. Ireys
  • Mathew Gillingham
Original Paper


System-wide research on the use of out-of-home care among children and youth is needed to inform the development of policies and services. We used Medicaid claims from North Carolina to examine patterns of out-of-home care, identify demographic and diagnostic differences between those who received care in residential treatment, psychiatric hospitals, or general hospitals, and determine whether demographic or diagnostic characteristics were associated with having more than one out-of-home stay during the year. Among those who received out-of-home care during a 1 year period, 36% received care in residential treatment only, 32.4% in general hospitals only, and 17.6% in psychiatric hospitals only, while 14.0% used more than one sector of out-of-home care. Boys, teenagers, and youth in foster care or diagnosed with emotional disturbance or hyperkinetic syndrome had higher odds of receiving care in residential treatment only whereas girls, youth age 19–21, and those with depressive and stress and adjustment disorders had higher odds of receiving care from hospitals only. Teenagers and youth in foster care had higher odds of having more than one stay. Among those with more than one stay, there were 300 patterns of care and nearly half received care from more than one service sector. The implications for services and policy are discussed. Further research is needed to understand patterns of out-of-home care and the factors that influence placement decisions.


Medicaid Residential treatment Hospital Mental Child Youth Out-of-home 



This research was supported by a contract between Mathematica Policy Research and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA; Contract Number 280-03-1501). The views expressed in this manuscript are those of the authors and not necessarily those of SAMHSA. We are grateful for the support of Jeffrey Buck and Judith Teich at SAMHSA and for the expertise provided by Allison Barrett, Deo Bencio, Ann Cherlow, and James Verdier in guiding our use of Medicaid data. Sharon Clark and Daryl Hall provided editorial assistance.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jonathan D. Brown
    • 1
    Email author
  • Morris Hamilton
    • 2
  • Brenda Natzke
    • 1
  • Henry T. Ireys
    • 1
  • Mathew Gillingham
    • 2
  1. 1.Mathematica Policy ResearchWashingtonUSA
  2. 2.Mathematica Policy ResearchAnn ArborUSA

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