Methods: In-depth interviews were conducted with 12 child welfare and juvenile justice professionals in three major cities in Texas. Participants include judges, child welfare and juvenile justice program directors, and attorneys. Child welfare and juvenile justice professionals were recruited using a mix of snowball and convenience sampling. Data was analyzed using a phenomenological approach using semi-structured interviews to elicit participant views on their perceptions of systemic racial barriers, and the impact of placement in congregate settings on Black crossover youth. Interviews were audio recorded, transcribed verbatim, and analyzed and coded.
Findings: Findings illuminate the views of professionals on the impact of systemic racism on Black crossover youth, who are disproportionately placed in congregate care. There was a common thread of responses from professionals acknowledging the presence to race disparities in congregate placements of Black crossover adolescents. Key beliefs included: the impact of congregate placement on the crossover trajectory, systemic race bias of placement of Black youth in these settings, and compounded risk of being Black, male, and dually involved in the juvenile justice and child welfare systems.
Conclusion and Implications: Literature on crossover youth continues to develop and the exploration of professionals working with this population needs continued attention in the literature. Results from this study suggests the existence of systemic and compounded barriers for Black crossover youth, particularly when they are in congregate placements. Additional qualitative work exploring perceptions of professionals across different jurisdictions is needed. Implications for multi-system collaboration to enhance service provision, and a need for race-based social justice advocacy is presented.