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Academic, Behavioral, and Mental Health Status of Children and Youth at Entry to Residential Care

NCJ Number
Residential Treatment for Children & Youth Volume: 25 Issue: 4 Dated: 2008 Pages: 359-374
Alexandra L. Trout; Jessica L. Hagaman; M. Beth Chmelka; Robert Gehringer; Michael H. Epstein; Robert Reid
Date Published
16 pages
This study evaluated the intake data of a sample of youth to assess their academic, behavioral, and mental health functioning at entry to a residential program.
The findings replicate and extend previous studies of children in residential care, indicating that these children present significant behavioral, mental health, and academic risks. Risks were most pronounced across indicators of problem behaviors. In addition to broad behavioral risks, the findings indicate that children in residential care self-report high levels of mental health problems. Over half of all participants in the study met DSM criteria for at least one psychiatric disorder. The findings suggest that in addition to high behavioral and mental health needs, a majority of the children entering care do so with significant academic delays in at least one subject area. Those most problematic include: basic skills such as reading fluency and math calculation; however, academic knowledge (basic knowledge of science and history) was also a significant area of risk. Residential settings serve a broad range of children who present significant risks. While much is known about emotional and behavioral functioning, less is known about academic strengths and limitations. This study evaluated 127 children at intake into a residential care program to determine demographic, behavioral, mental health, and educational characteristics. Tables and references