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October 2010Vol. 11, No. 8Practice Model for Crossover Youth

Crossover youth, the population of young people who move between the child welfare and juvenile justice systems, have been the subject of extensive research over the past decade. Studies show that crossover youth are often in the child welfare system for long periods of time, regularly experiencing multiple placements; a disproportionate number of them are youth of color; and the population as a whole generally requires a more intense array of services and supports than other youth known to each system individually.

Based on this growing body of knowledge, Casey Family Programs, in partnership with the Center for Juvenile Justice Reform at Georgetown University's Public Policy Institute (CJJR), developed and published The Crossover Youth Practice Model. The manual describes the specific practices needed to reduce the number of youth who cross over between the child welfare and juvenile justice systems, the number of youth entering and reentering the State's care, and the length of stay in out-of-home care.

The practice model creates a nexus between the research and best practices known to child welfare and juvenile justice, the research related to crossover youth, and the lessons learned in practice from the Juvenile Justice & Child Welfare Integration Breakthrough Series Collaborative. States can use this model as a template for serving crossover youth because it provides a mechanism that enables agencies to strengthen their organizational structure and improve practices that directly affect outcomes for youth.

The manual describes the model:

  • In terms of its values and principles
  • In relationship to family engagement
  • As a mechanism for reducing disproportionality and disparity and improving cultural competence
  • In terms of implementing the model through five practice areas that follow the course of a case from arrest through case closure

The authors conclude that meeting the needs of crossover youth requires multisystem collaboration, as well as best practice and evidence-based programs related to child welfare, juvenile justice, mental health, substance abuse, and education.

The Crossover Youth Practice Model was written by Lorrie Lutz and Macon Stewart, with contributions from Lyman Legters and Denise Herz. It is available on the CJJR website: (7.4 MB)