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The Partnership

Casey Family Programs and the Center for Juvenile Justice Reform have partnered since 2007 to address the unique issues presented by children and youth who are known to both the child welfare and juvenile justice systems. These young people, often referred to as “crossover youth,” move between the child welfare and juvenile justice systems, or are known to both concurrently. A disproportionate number of them are youth of color and girls, and the population as a whole generally requires a more intense array of services and supports than other youth known to each system individually. While the exact number of crossover youth may vary across jurisdictions, research has established that youth who have been maltreated are more likely to engage in delinquent behavior. A recent study by Chapin Hall has also increased our knowledge about one segment of this population, finding that 10% of all youth who leave the juvenile justice system in Illinois enter the foster care system after their release. The work undertaken in this partnership has been designed to better address the issues these youth present and meet their needs.

The Practice Model

Based on this cumulative and growing body of knowledge, CJJR has developed a practice model that describes the specific practices that need to be in place within a jurisdiction in order to reduce the number of youth who crossover between the child welfare and juvenile justice systems, the number of youth entering and reentering care, and the length of stay in out of home care. The Practice Model for Crossover Youth will infuse into this work values and standards; evidence-based practices, policies and procedures; and quality assurance processes. It will provide a template for how states can immediately impact how they serve crossover youth and rapidly impact outcomes.

The practice model creates a nexus between research and the practice learning from the Juvenile Justice & Child Welfare Integration Breakthrough Series Collaborative. It provides a mechanism whereby agencies will strengthen their organizational structure and implement or improve practices that directly affect the outcomes for crossover youth. This will include but is not limited to the following practices: the creation of a process for identifying crossover youth at the point of crossing over, ensuring that workers are exchanging information in a timely manner, including families in all decision-making aspects of the case, ensuring that foster care bias is not occurring at the point of detention or disposition, and maximizing the services utilized by each system to prevent crossover from occurring.

Goals of the Practice Model

The following are the overall goals for the sites participating in the Crossover Youth Practice Model:

  1. A reduction in the number of youth placed in out-of-home care
  2. A reduction in the use of congregate care
  3. A reduction in the disproportionate representation of children of color
  4. A reduction in the number of youth becoming dually-adjudicated

In an effort to achieve the overall goals of the Practice Model, we have created a set of interim outcome measures for each site:

  • A reduction in the number of youth re-entering child welfare from juvenile justice placements
  • A reduction in the penetration of juvenile justice by foster youth
  • A reduction in the use of out-of-home placements
  • A reduction in the use of congregate care as a placement
  • A reduction in the use of pre-adjudication detention
  • A reduction in the rate of recidivism
  • An increase in the use of interagency information sharing
  • An increase in the inclusion of family voice in decision making
  • An increase in youth and parent satisfaction with the process
  • An increase in the use of joint assessment

Participating in the practice model will allow each site to create a seamless process from case opening to case closing that improves outcomes for crossover youth. Implementation of the model will ensure that practices are consistent for all youth within a system and resources are shared between the systems to maximize their impact. The model will emphasize the importance of developing cross systems data capacity and the need to use good data to make program and policy decisions. Within the model there will be a specific focus on the reduction of youth placed in congregate care facilities, specifically group homes and shelter care -- and the increased utilization of families and the community as partners in case planning, policy development, and the building of system capacity.

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