Maltreated children and youth are likelier to be delinquent than those in the general population. Youth may come to the attention of both the child welfare and juvenile justice systems (i.e., “crossover youth”), yet these systems typically operate separately, leaving youth without their service needs adequately addressed. The Crossover Youth Practice Model (CYPM) is a systems-level intervention, through collaborations between county and/or state child welfare and juvenile justice agencies, with changes in practices/policies that influence improvement in youth outcomes (Center for Juvenile Justice Reform, 2019). Increasing research focuses on crossover youths’ systems experiences, yet less attention has been paid to evaluating interventions to help them. Using data from CYPM implementation sites, this study examines: 1) What changes in local practices were implemented as a result of CYPM?, 2) How did changes in practices relate to individual outcomes for CYPM youth over time?, and 3) Did CYPM youth have better outcomes when compared to crossover youth prior to CYPM?
Data come from nine CYPM sites launched in 2010 and 2011, including information from practices checklists and samples comparing youth and their outcomes pre- (“pre-CYPM”; n = 131) and post-CYPM implementation (n = 219). Analyses include descriptive statistics, chi squares to compare CYPM youth outcomes during early and later model implementation, McNemar’s test to compare pre-and post-CYPM measures, and logistic and multinomial regression for predictors of behavioral/mental health, child welfare, and juvenile justice outcomes for youth.
All sites established protocols to identify crossover youth early in processing and enhance coordination between agencies. Eighty-nine percent of sites implemented interagency meetings, 78% sought to reduce school arrests, and 67% implemented efforts to reduce arrests from placement and reduce pre-adjudication detention. When comparing the first 3 months of CYPM implementation to the last 9 months, there was a statistically significant improvement in increasing identification of crossover youth early in case processing (p < .05). In comparing pre-CYPM and CYPM youth outcomes, regression analyses showed that being in the CYPM group was significantly related to involvement in prosocial programming, mental health improvements, and child welfare permanency. One statistically significant finding was contrary to predictions—CYPM youth were more likely to have a new arrest during the tracking period (p < .05), but there was no difference between groups for sustained petitions by the court. CYPM youth were 60% more likely to have both cases closed at the end of the tracking period compared to pre-CYPM youth.
Conclusions and Implications
This study adds to the evidence base for CYPM: measurable change in local practices occurred in the CYPM sites and crossover youths’ outcomes were improved overall. Given the interdisciplinary nature of social work as well as the number of social workers in the child welfare and juvenile justice systems, this research supports the efficacy of CYPM in shaping systems changes as well as youths’ outcomes. Additional research is needed to examine how practice changes can reduce specific delinquent behaviors for crossover youth, as well as additional evaluation efforts for the CYPM overall.