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  1. Vulnerable populations and the TTA • This lecture will focus on two groups considered very vulnerable • Involved in social service (physical/mental health) • Involved in justice system

  2. Vulnerable Populations • Considers the transition for 7 populations, distinguished by involvement in gov’t services • Mental health system • Foster care system • Juvenile justice system • Criminal justice system • Special education • Health care (disabilities, chronic health) • Runaway and homeless youth

  3. Transition to adulthood for vulnerable groups • “If the transition to adulthood is slow and arduous for a large share of the general populations, how much harder must it be for young people who have spent years in the mental health or juvenile justice system, or in foster care?” • Osgood, Foster, & Courtney

  4. Vulnerable groups • Can be described in terms of • public systems that provide services to them • Their specific challenges (disabilities, traumas) • Often face multiple challenges and served by multiple system so difficult to estimate size

  5. Diverse missions of these systems • Foster care and Juv. Justice—custodial in nature • Others—provide support but don’t take over legal parenting responsibility

  6. Vulnerable populations • Exceptional challenges • Finding work • Attending college • Starting a families

  7. Challenges facing Vulnerable populations • Many struggle with • Emotional or behavioral problems • Many have histories of problems in school and the community • Often families are unable or unwilling to provide • financial support • College assistance • Childcare • Many have limited capacities and struggle to acquire new skills.

  8. Summary of challenges • Eligibility changes just as youth begin transition • Each program is designed to respond to distinct need (e.g., disability, mental illness) but problems rarely isolated • Because systems designed around these categories of eligibility, no one system is responsible for meeting the entire range • Some are in conflict

  9. Challenges • Many struggle to achieve financial and residential independent because of • Physical disabilities • Chronic illness • Mental illness • Many carry stigma of justice and foster care system

  10. Challenge: Eligibility • Although many dependent on public aid, when they reach 18 or 21 eligibility abruptly ends • If eligible for further care often enter systems with much older people • Systems not designed to serve young adults

  11. End of eligibility • Foster care—stops between 18-21 • Young people benefit from gradual not abrupt • Special ed • Services extend and are tailored to needs • IDEA requires high schools to begin developing transitions plans when students are 14 • Each Sp. Ed student must have a plan with long-term goals for ed, job training, life skills and services to meet goals •

  12. Other systems • Juvenile justice • Move to adult criminal justice system (usually at 18) • Shift from rehab to criminal punishment

  13. Commonalities of vulnerable groups during the Transition • Males, the poor, and youth of color are over-represented in EVERY group • Youth within each group vary widely in seriousness and type of need • Population overlap • Poor outcomes • Factors contributing to success

  14. Overrepresented groups • Males • Males—specific biological factors are relevant • Autism much more common • Illegal behavior more common • Different reactions to externalizing

  15. Overrepresented groups • Youth of color • AA men incarcerated at 6 times the rate of whites • Youth with disabilities are 2 times more likely to be in jail • Partially Attributed to poverty • Sometimes eligibility factor/sometimes risk • Affects decision re entry into system • The rate of poverty is 50% higher among disabled youth, but not all vulnerable youth are poor • Wealthy kids get more service, push system to pay for special education.

  16. Overrepresented groups • Poverty is implicated • Rates of crime highest in poor neighborhoods • Draw more kids into juvenile and criminal justice system • Resulting victimization and family disruption raise risks for • Mental health problems • Family stability • Disability • In richer neighborhoods, youth with even minor transgressions can end up in special education

  17. Diversity of the populations • in terms of seriousness and type of problem • E.g., Special ed • Mental retardation, emotional, behavioral problems • Age at which vulnerability arises • E.g., Foster care, entry as infant vs. teen • E.g., Mental health—schizophrenia onset

  18. Overlap in populations • Multiple systems involved • 35% of emotionally disturbed youth in special education are arrested as juveniles. • Youth with reading difficulties much more likely to be incarcerated 70% of inmates! • Administrative links—referrals to each other • One systems exacerbates other problems • Youth in juv. Justice system removed from supports • Youth who are moving in and out of hospitals, foster homes, treatment facilities miss school

  19. Overlap in problems • Members of vulnerable groups fare poorly at completing high school and obtaining college education • Only 54% of foster care youth complete high school within 4 years, less than 10 percent attend college • Fewer than 20% of youth incarcerated have diplomas or GEDs • Fewer than 15 percent of homeless youth over 18 have high school diplomas • Youth with multiple physical disabilities have only a 1 in 12 chance of completing college • Cost and consequences are terrible!

  20. Employment outcomes • Varies by problem • Only 1/3 of homeless youth are employed full time • Less than 40% with serious physical disabilities are in the labor force • Consequences • Live below poverty • Struggle to pay bills and expenses • Depend on public assistance

  21. Family outcomes • Rates of marriage not much different-low • MUCH higher rates of unplanned pregnancy • 1/3 former foster • ½ learning disabled • ¼ in mental health system

  22. Factors contributing to success • Resilience factors • Individual skills and personality • Supportive relationships • Involvement in groups • Success at school

  23. Challenges • Many struggle to achieve financial and residential independent because of • Physical disabilities • Chronic illness • Mental illness • Many carry stigma of justice and foster care system