Multi-system factors impacting youth justice involvement of children in residential out-of-home care

Susan Baidawi, Rubini Ball

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


Children placed in residential care are significantly over-represented in youth justice systems. Drawing on interviews and focus groups with service providers, this exploratory study examines practice factors that impact on the criminalization of this group of children across multiple services and systems, including in the residential care environment, police, lawyers, courts and youth justice systems, as well as multi-systems practice with this group in one Australian state. Positive outcomes were observed for children in residential care where well-functioning care teams existed, as well as for children in therapeutic residential care settings. However, clear limitations were identified across all phases of children's youth justice system involvement, including placement with offending peers, the criminalization of behaviours of concern, greater use of remand and detention, limited support to navigate legal and youth justice processes, challenges to service collaboration, and limited applicability of sentencing considerations. The findings indicate a pervasive level of systemic disadvantage for this group of children, and imply that a holistic strategy underpinned by affirmative action across several systems will be necessary to address the ongoing criminalization of children in residential care.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)53-64
Number of pages12
JournalChild & Family Social Work
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2023


  • child protection
  • crossover youth
  • group homes
  • juvenile justice
  • residential care
  • youth justice

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