Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Social Work


School of Social Work

First Reader/Committee Chair

Gordon, Zoila


Youth who have experienced maltreatment and the dysfunction of multiple placements are at risk of engaging in delinquent behaviors. Studies from various professionals found specific risk and protective factors that affect youth from being involved in the juvenile justice system. The current study adds significantly literature by identifying the risk and protective factors that affect foster youth in the child welfare and juvenile justice system based on social workers perspectives. The results indicate almost 93% of the participants agreed that multiple placements, 74% agreed that physical abuse, 61% agreed that group homes, and 67% agreed that sexual abuse serve as risk factors for foster youth. Foster youth who have encountered risks factors such as psychical abuse, sexual abuse, severe general neglect, mental health issues, multiple placements, group home placements, substance abuse, and negative support systems are at risk of being involved with the juvenile justice system. In addition, approximately 99% of the participants agreed that a mentor, 98% agreed that after school activities, 91% agreed that early parent bonding, 90% agreed that monitoring youths behaviors, and 73% agreed that contact with birth parents serves as protective factors that prevent youth from being involved from the juvenile justice system. The results identify factors such as early parent child bonding, school activities, contact with birth family, parents or caregivers monitoring their behavior, a mentor or role model, school involvement, and involvement with religious and spiritual activities serve as protective factors in preventing youth involvement in the juvenile justice system.