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Advancing Our Understanding of the Risk Factors Associated with Crossover Youth in the Child Welfare and Juvenile Justice Systems: A Trauma-Informed Research Agenda

Abstract

Previous research has provided robust evidence demonstrating that a notable proportion of youth become involved in both the child welfare (CW) system and the juvenile justice (JJ) system, a population often referred to as crossover youth. Prior work has identified a number of risk factors associated with crossing over between these systems. However, there are limitations to the extant literature, key among which is a lack of systematic attention to the influence of trauma exposure and posttraumatic sequelae on the crossover trajectory. In contrast, viewing this research through a trauma-informed lens promises to enhance our ability to integrate findings across studies and to derive theoretically derived hypotheses about underlying mechanisms which will better inform future research and the development of effective prevention and intervention efforts. Accordingly, the purpose of this article is to present a trauma-informed research agenda that would strengthen future research in the field. After providing a brief critique of the existing studies that has documented known risk factors associated with the crossover population, we outline ways in which future research could apply relevant theoretical trauma-informed approaches, including developmental traumatology, to further advance our knowledge of risk factors and mechanisms associated with the crossover trajectory. We conclude by discussing policy and system-wide implications related to the proposed research agenda.

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Modrowski, C.A., Chaplo, S.D. & Kerig, P.K. Advancing Our Understanding of the Risk Factors Associated with Crossover Youth in the Child Welfare and Juvenile Justice Systems: A Trauma-Informed Research Agenda. Clin Child Fam Psychol Rev (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10567-021-00370-4

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Keywords

  • Crossover youth
  • Child welfare system
  • Juvenile justice system
  • Developmental traumatology
  • Trauma exposure