Crossover Youth: A Shared Responsibility

This week, the California Child Welfare Co-Investment Partnership released a summary of their recent research and analysis efforts, entitled “Crossover Youth: A Shared Responsibility.”

The first two sections of the report begin with two statistics on California youth: first, “there were 496,972 reports of [child] neglect and abuse in 2014, with 81,391 substantiated,” and second, “there were 101,531 young people referred to juvenile probation in 2014.” These frame the conversation on the outcomes of crossover youth: those who exist where these statistics overlap–crossover youth have been involved in both the child welfare system and the juvenile justice system.  

According to Jessica K. Heldman of the Robert F. Kennedy National Resource Center, “in our field work, we consistently find that as many as two-thirds of juvenile justice-involved youth have had some experience in the child welfare system. This is a significant population that cannot be ignored.”

These youth generally are more likely to be separated from their families, to have behavioral health needs, and to have trouble succeeding academically. As the report’s title argues, improving the outcomes of crossover youth is a responsibility that should be shared across systems and institutions. The report provides a cross-sectional overview of data, studies and policy reform efforts to examine the dynamics of this responsibility. While it specifically examines California’s current  institutional interventions and responses, the report explicitly intends to look beyond past failings and promote collaborating to improve outcomes for these youth in the future.

In its conclusion, the report lists a number of recommendations for successfully accomplishing this. They instruct future policy makers and child welfare professionals to do the following:

  • Clarify terminology
  • Create a fuller picture of crossover youth through better data
  • Create additional opportunities to move from collaboration to shared ownership
  • Recognize the power differential and unintended outcomes of system-involvement
  • Truly integrate cultural and gender-specific trauma-informed practices and direct contact with these youth and families
  • Bring all necessary parties to the table
  • Provide additional training to judges and counsel
  • Recognized the legal and policy concerns

Read the whole report here.

The California Child Welfare Co-Investment Partnership is a collaboration of private and public organizations that works to improve outcomes for those engaged in the child welfare system. This is the tenth volume in their collection of regular “Insights” on an aspect of their work. The Partnership includes the Casey Family Programs, Conrad N. Hilton Foundation, Stuart Foundation, Walter S. Johnson Foundation, Zellerbach Family Foundation, the California Department of Social Services, the Judicial Council of California, and the County Welfare Directors Association.

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Legislative leaders in California have produced an initial plan to achieve Gov. Gavin Newsom's call for the closure of the state's Department of #JuvenileJustice, which once housed more than 10,000 youth and young adults and now holds fewer than 1,000.