Dual system youth and their pathways in Los Angeles County: A replication of the OJJDP Dual System Youth Study

Child Abuse & Neglect(2021)

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Background: The estimated number of youth who come into contact with both the child welfare and juvenile justice systems, or "dual system" youth, varies widely because studies use different methodologies. Recent work using linked administrative data shows promise for identifying a stable range of dual system rates, generalizable to other jurisdictions and useful for understanding the nature and timing of system involvement. Objective: This study replicates the U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) Dual System Youth Design Study methodology to explore dual system overlap and six distinct dual system pathways defined by the type (i.e., nonconcurrent or concurrent) and timing (i.e., first contact with child welfare or juvenile justice) of dual system contact in Los Angeles County. Participants and setting: Using data from the Los Angeles Probation Department, a cohort of youth born in/after 1998 with a first juvenile justice petition between 2014 and 2016 was identified (N = 6877) and matched to statewide child welfare records between 1998 and 2017. Method: Descriptive statistics were produced for dual system youth and pathways, and differences across groups were tested using chi-square and t-tests. Results: Two-thirds of youth with a first juvenile justice petition interacted with the child welfare system. The majority of dual system youth did not have contact with both systems at the same time and nearly all dual system youth were involved with the child welfare system before the juvenile justice system. Female and Black youth were more likely to be dual system youth and to have more extensive involvement with the child welfare system. Probation experiences and outcomes were associated with the nature and chronicity of child welfare involvement. Conclusion: Implementing a delinquency prevention continuum that starts with community-based supports and continues throughout all levels of child welfare and juvenile justice involvement is essential to disrupting dual system involvement.
Crossover youth,Dual system youth,Dual system involvement,Dually-involved youth,Dual status youth,Child welfare and juvenile justice involvement
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