Factors influencing length of stay in out-of-home placements: Are human services and corrections placements different?

Misty L. Heggeness, Elizabeth E. Davis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


This study analyzes the experiences of youth placed out-of-home for behavioral reasons by human services and juvenile corrections departments in a large Midwestern metropolitan county. The study goals are to determine whether youth placed by each department have similar characteristics and analyze the factors associated with length of stay in placement. Many local human services and corrections departments are attempting to coordinate their services in an effort to improve the outcomes for youth and their families. The study findings suggest that the youth placed by the two departments are similar in many ways, yet there are some important differences. Factors associated with length of stay differ between the two departments, suggesting that youth experiences differ once placed. Out-of-home placements of youth for behavioral reasons are costly, and policymakers continually question the effectiveness of placements in providing treatment to youth with behavioral problems. Our study identifies key factors associated with long placement stays for youth placed by both human services and corrections departments. By targeting intensive intervention and treatment towards these youth and their families, local governments may be able to reduce the length of stay in out-of-home placement and effectively address the youths' behavioral problems.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)749-757
Number of pages9
JournalChildren and Youth Services Review
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2010

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors wish to acknowledge the Hennepin County Department of Research, Planning, and Development (formerly called the Hennepin County Office of Planning and Development), as well as the Hennepin County Joint Care Management Initiative, for their interest in conducting research on this topic and their careful work to collect and merge the data across departments, units, and information management systems, without which this research would not have been possible. Additionally, the authors appreciate the financial support of the University of Minnesota Center for Urban and Regional Affairs for this project.


  • Administrative data
  • Child welfare
  • Cox regression
  • Length of stay
  • Out-of-home placements


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