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Theyre Not All at Home: Residential Placements of Early Adolescents in Special Education

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Journal of Emotional and Behavioral Disorders

Published online on


Using an integrated administrative data set, out-of-home residential placements (i.e., child welfare, juvenile justice, mental health) were examined in a sample of early adolescents in a large urban school district. Out-of-home placements were tracked across Grades 7 to 9 in a population of 58,000 youth. This included 10,911 students identified for special education (7,028 with learning disabilities, 1,247 with serious emotional disturbance, 1,245 with intellectual disabilities, 804 with speech and language impairments, and 587 with other disabilities). Students who received special education were twice as likely to experience out-of-home placements. The rates and types of out-of-home placements were differentially related to specific special education classifications. In particular, youth with serious emotional disturbance were more likely to experience out-of-home placements and to be involved in multiple sectors. Findings are discussed in relation to the development of intensive emotional and behavioral interventions for early adolescents who receive special education services.