When Magistrate Amanda Pearson became the first Crossover Judge in the San Luis Valley of Colorado – a rural desert community home to the famous Great Dunes National Park and a scenic stretch of the Rocky Mountains – she met with local leaders from the region’s child-serving agencies who were eager to work with Pearson to improve the lives of the San Luis Valley’s youth. As the area’s first Crossover Judge, Magistrate Pearson would specialize in hearing the cases of youth involved in both the child welfare and juvenile justice systems, often referred to as crossover or dually involved youth. Leaders in the region, who had been advocating for the existence of this position before Magistrate Pearson’s appointment, approached that first meeting prepared to explain their vision for the position and their philosophy for treating this particular population of youth in the San Luis Valley.
As it turned out, Magistrate Pearson needed little explanation. “She had the same vision we had,” said Cindy Cotten, the SB 94 Coordinator for San Luis Valley. “She really understood the collaborative effort everyone was trying to make,” confirmed Laurie Rivera, Deputy Director of the Alamosa County Department of Human Services. Magistrate Pearson arrived on the job with a practice philosophy similar, if not identical, to the one the San Luis Valley leadership had been crafting over the past several years. After discussing how the courts and local agencies could work together and collaborate as a system, Magistrate Pearson and the local leaders left that meeting excited about the united vision for the area’s crossover youth.
Magistrate Pearson’s new position is just the most recent in a series of events that mark the San Luis Valley’s commitment to reforming the experiences of multi-system youth in the region.