NSCAW, Adolescents Involved with Child Welfare: A Transition to Adulthood

Publication Date: April 15, 2008


This is the first report to focus on adolescents transitioning to young adulthood, presenting findings from the NSCAW Wave 5 follow-up. It provides information about 620 young adults who were adolescents (12 to 15 years old) at baseline. Some adolescents’ cases were closed after investigation; others had a case opened to CWS services. Although the majority remained at home after investigation, a small proportion were removed from their homes. At Wave 5, 6 to 7 years after the child protective services investigation, these young adults are 18 to 21 years old.

Young adults who were the focus of maltreatment in adolescence are at a critical transition as they age into early adulthood. They are making decisions that may shape the rest of their lives. They are learning to take care of themselves, independent of their caregivers. Furthermore, many are doing so while learning how to be parents themselves. They face many critical risks to their well-being that are related not only to the experimentation that characterizes their newly acquired independence, but also to having been involved with a family investigated for child maltreatment. Important health issues for these young adults include reproductive health, obesity, mental health, substance abuse, violence, and access to services within a changing system. In addition to health issues, these young adults are in the midst of establishing their own places of residence, finding employment, and forming lasting adult relationships.

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