Insight into the characteristics and system experiences for youth who touch both the child welfare and juvenile justice systems has increased over the last decade. These youth are typically studied as one population and referred to as “crossover youth.” While this literature contributes valuable insight into who crossover youth are, studies are virtually silent on distinguishing characteristics and experiences across different pathways leading to dual system contact. This study reviews what is currently known about dual system youth generally (i.e., youth who have contact with both the juvenile justice and child welfare systems) and introduces a framework for consistently defining dual system youth and their pathways. The utility of the framework is then explored using linked administrative data for cohorts of youth aged 10 to 18 years old with a first petition to delinquency court in three sites: Cook County, Illinois between 2010 and 2014 (N = 14,170); Cuyahoga County, Ohio between 2010 and 2014 (N = 11,441); and New York City between 2013 and 2014 (N = 1272). The findings show a high prevalence of dual system contact overall, ranging from 44.8 to 70.3%, as well as wide variation in the ways in which youth touched both systems. Specifically, non-concurrent system contact is more prevalent than concurrent system contact in all sites, and individual characteristics and system experiences vary within and across these different pathway groups. Based on study findings, implications for future research on dual system youth and for developing collaborative practices and policies across the systems are discussed.
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The authors would like to recognize and thank the child welfare and juvenile justice agencies from each site for their contributions to this project. Juvenile justice data were provided by Cook County Juvenile Probation and Court Services and the Chicago Police Department for Cook County; the Cuyahoga County Juvenile Court for Cuyahoga; and the New York City Department of Probation and the Law Department for New York City. Child welfare data were provided by the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services for Cook County; the Cuyahoga County Division of Children and Family Services for Cuyahoga County; and the New York City Administration for Children’s Services (ACS) for New York City. This study would not have been possible without the permission of these agencies to use their data. The findings reported within this report, however, are those of the authors and permission to use data from these entities does not indicate an endorsement of the content or conclusions contained within the report. We would also like to recognize and thank Dennis Culhane, Ph.D., and T.C. Burnett, M. Dennis Culhane, Director, and T.C. Burnett, Associate Director of Actionable Intelligence for Social Policy at the University of Pennsylvania for their valuable contributions to the design and interpretations of this study.
D.H. and C.D. (first and second authors), Principal Investigators for the OJJDP Dual Systems Youth Study, led the implementation of this study with three independent research teams, and drafted the article; J.R. and M.S. coded and analyzed data and prepared initial results for New York City; J.R. also assisted in the preparation of the manuscript; S.G. and R.G. coded and analyzed data and prepared initial results for Cook County, Illinois; Y.C. and C.C. coded and analyzed data and prepared initial results for Cuyahoga County, Ohio; S.A. assisted in the systematic search and preparation of the literature review when he was affiliated with Georgetown University’s McCourt School of Public Policy’s Center for Juvenile Justice Reform. All authors participated in revising the article, and all authors read and approved the final manuscript.
This project was supported by Grant #2015-CV-BX-0001 awarded by the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice. The opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect those of the Department of Justice.
Data Sharing and Declaration
The data used for this study are not publicly available. They were accessed by site research teams from the respective government agencies through signed data sharing agreements. However, the syntaxes used by the research teams from the corresponding author(s) are available upon reasonable request.
Conflict of Interest
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
All three research teams maintain signed data sharing agreements with the agencies providing them with data in addition to Institutional Review Approvals for the use of these data in the current study from their respective Institutional Review Boards. Additionally, this study was in compliance with the Department of Justice Privacy Certificate requirements. Documentation of these approvals are available from the corresponding author(s) upon reasonable request.
Informed consent was not required for this study because it utilized de-identified administrative data.
Publisher’s note: Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.
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Herz, D.C., Dierkhising, C.B., Raithel, J. et al. Dual System Youth and their Pathways: A Comparison of Incidence, Characteristics and System Experiences using Linked Administrative Data. J Youth Adolescence 48, 2432–2450 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10964-019-01090-3