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Inside group homes

March 26, 2009

Re "Study: Group homes' results mixed," March 23

The Times reports that a Rand Corp. study finds group homes fail to rehabilitate most delinquents and that its lead author therefore questions the effectiveness of the "juvenile justice system."

The juvenile justice system works with delinquents not just while they're in group care but many years after they've departed.

This distinction is often ignored: How can group homes be responsible for outcomes years after they are no longer responsible for a youth's care? Repeated requests for funding to deliver aftercare services to the youth after they leave group care have so far been disregarded.

Group homes continue to play a vital role in the juvenile justice system's continuum of care, offering a broad array of services.

Bruce Saltzer

Los Angeles

The writer is executive director of the Assn. of Community Human Service Agencies.

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The underlying causes of why children remain in lives of crime and drugs were not addressed adequately in your article.

Over the last 10 years,

the length of stay in a group home has decreased from

6.1 months in 1999 to

3.5 months, primarily because of funding limitations.

Young men return to the same, often bleak situations that were responsible for their assignment in a group home in the first place. Professional and competent group homes such as ours can only do so much in the short period of time that youth are under our roofs.

Clayton L. Downey

Baldwin Park

The writer is president and chief executive of Ettie Lee Youth and Family Services, which operates nine group homes for at-risk youth.

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