• Youth Homelessness
  • Volume 20, Number 3
  • Managing Editor: Mark D. Shroder
  • Associate Editor: Michelle P. Matuga

Predictors of Running Away from Out-of-Home Care: Does County Context Matter?

Amy Dworsky
Fred Wulczyn
Lilian Huang
Chapin Hall at the University of Chicago

Running away is a relatively common experience, especially among youth in out-of-home care. This report uses child-level placement data from the Multistate Foster Care Data Archive (FCDA; n=53,610) to examine the incidence of running away during the first out-of-home care spell among youth who entered out-of-home care as adolescents. We estimate a three-level logistic regression model that includes youth characteristics, placement history characteristics, county characteristics, and a measure of state policy. Consistent with prior studies, we find that the odds of running away vary by gender, race/ ethnicity, age, and placement type. Our results also suggest that county context (that is, population density and socioeconomic disadvantage) matters, although additional research to better understand these relationships is needed. Additionally, we find some evidence that having a screening or risk assessment process for youth entering out-of-home care may reduce the incidence of running away.

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