Abstract: Lifetime Risk of Juvenile Justice System Involvement Among Children Involved with Child Protective Services (Society for Social Work and Research 26th Annual Conference - Social Work Science for Racial, Social, and Political Justice)

Lifetime Risk of Juvenile Justice System Involvement Among Children Involved with Child Protective Services

Friday, January 14, 2022
Independence BR C, ML 4 (Marriott Marquis Washington, DC)
* noted as presenting author
Andrea Eastman, PhD, Research Assistant Professor, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA
Denise Herz, PhD, Director, California State University—Los Angeles, School of Criminal Justice and Criminalistics, California State University, Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA
Jacquelyn McCroskey, DSW, Professor, University of Southern California, CA
Emily Putnam-Hornstein, PhD, John A. Tate Distinguished Professor for Children in Need, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC
Background: Most youth with a Probation petition have contact with Child Protective Services (CPS), however, half of all dual system involvement is non-concurrent. Given the siloed nature of state and county departments, CPS experiences of young people with dual system involvement are likely unknown in the juvenile justice system. The present study examined CPS involvement experienced between birth and age 18 for a cohort of young people with CPS-only or dual system involvement.

Methods: Dual system youth were identified using probabilistically linked records from California’s Child Welfare Services/Case Management System (CWS/CMS) for years 1998 through 2018 and LA County’s Probation records for years 2014 through 2016. Dual system involvement was defined as any young person with CPS involvement (e.g. a maltreatment report, substantiation, case, or out-of-home placement) and a juvenile justice petition. Descriptive statistics were used to document dual system involvement and descriptively examine demographic characteristics, the level of CPS involvement, and maltreatment allegations. Differences between young people with a juvenile justice petition and those without were examined using χ2 tests. Two Generalized Linear Models showed the relative risk of dual system involvement for each allegation type after adjusting for race/ethnicity for each gender.

Results: Among all young people born in 1998 with CPS involvement in Los Angeles County (N=65,950), 6.8% had a juvenile justice petition by age 18 (N=4,385). Three percent of young people who were reported only had dual system involvement whereas 13.7% of young people with an out-of-home placement had dual system involvement). The results of the GLM showed that youth with an out-of-home foster care placement were 4.1 times as likely as a youth with a CPS report only (i.e. no substantiations, cases, or placements) to have a juvenile justice petition in LA County by age 18 years. The proportion of young people with each of the allegation types (e.g. neglect, physical abuse, sexual abuse) was significantly higher for dual system youth compared with child welfare-only youth (p<.001). For example, 50.0% of CPS-only youth experienced a neglect allegation in comparison to 76.4% of dual system youth (χ2 (65,950) = 110000, p < .001 ). Young people with a neglect allegation were twice as likely as young people without a neglect allegation have a juvenile justice petition (HR: 1.98, 95% CI: 1.83, 2.15, p<.001).

Conclusion: The risk of dual system involvement increased across levels of CPS involvement; youth in foster care were at highest risk. Serious allegation history was documented for dual system youth at a rate much higher than was true for the general population of youth with child welfare involvement only and those experiences varied significantly across race/ethnicity. Importantly, the allegation type was related to the risk of juvenile justice involvement.