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Reducing the Foster Care Bias in Juvenile Detention Decisions: The Impact of Project Confirm

NCJ Number
Dylan Conger; Timothy Ross
Date Published
June 2001
51 pages
This report examines the detention of foster juveniles and the bias imposed in detention decisions, and describes Project Confirm, an intervention program designed to reduce the unnecessary detention of foster juveniles.
Prior research discovered that youth in foster care entered juvenile detention facilities to await the outcome of their cases at higher rates than their nonfoster counterparts. This disparity was seen as due to the absence of child welfare representatives in court to take custody of foster children eligible for release. This caused children to be in both the child welfare and juvenile justice system simultaneously. The Vera Institute of Justice termed this the overlap problem and in 1998 established Project Confirm to tackle the problem. Project Confirm notifies the relevant foster care agencies of the need and their legal obligation for someone to be present at the first court hearing. Project Confirm staff will then meet the caseworkers at court to assist them through the juvenile justice system. The Vera Institute examined Project Confirm to measure the foster care bias in detention decisions and evaluated the extent to which the intervention by Project Confirm reduced that bias. The evaluation asked if the program reduced disparity in detention rates between foster and nonfoster and if it had increased placement stability for foster youth released from detention. Findings suggested that Project Confirm reduced the potential that foster youth were detained due to the lack of a release resource. This led to improvements in fairness and equal treatment. However, foster care bias still lingers. In addition, Project Confirm reduced the number of foster care replacements, increasing placement stability for those involved in the juvenile justice system. References, appendices, figures, and tables