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July 2012Vol. 13, No. 6New Issue of CASA's Connection

With studies showing that youth involved in child welfare have a much higher likelihood of entering the juvenile justice system, effective collaboration among child welfare agencies, juvenile justice agencies, the courts, and other stakeholders can be key in improving outcomes for dually involved youth. Improving cross-system responses to dually involved youth is the focus of a recent issue of The Connection magazine, published by Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) for Children.

In the feature article, author John Tuell, Codirector of the MacArthur Foundation Models for Change Initiative (MCI), outlines a new strategy that spotlights work done through the MCI and the Georgetown University Center for Juvenile Justice Reform at the Public Policy Institute, using the Crossover Youth Practice Model.

Some of the reforms that have been instituted at over a dozen sites across the country include:

  • Identifying crossover youth at earlier stages of case processing (i.e., arrest, predetention screening, and diversion decision-making)
  • Utilizing protocols that improve integrated assessment and case planning
  • Coordinating ongoing case management among child welfare, juvenile justice, education, and behavioral health providers
  • Developing policies for improved information sharing

Earlier work with similar models has indicated that such reforms can improve outcomes in several key areas, including:

  • Reduced recidivism
  • Reduced length of stay in detention
  • Improved education outcomes
  • Increased involvement in prosocial activities
  • Enhanced placement stability
  • Improved family functioning (i.e., reduction family/domestic violence)
  • Improved permanency, safety, and well-being

The article, "Dually Involved or Crossover Youth: Improving Outcomes and Coordinating Responses," also highlights the role CASA volunteers can play in supporting reforms and working with crossover youth. Tuell's four-part framework is featured in the Guidebook for Juvenile Justice and Child Welfare System Coordination and Integration, which is available on the MCI website:

In another article within the issue, "5 Tips for Volunteers Working With Dually Involved Youth," author Cynthia Chauvin, Program Director of the CASA Jefferson in Louisiana, provides her insight on the unique challenges CASA volunteers face when working with dually involved youth. Her specific tips for working with this population include:

  • Remain focused on the child's need for permanency, safety, and stability
  • Never lose sight of the youth's victimization and remind other adults involved in the case that the youth also is a victim, despite recent delinquent activity
  • Develop a working knowledge of juvenile justice terms
  • Be careful not to talk about any juvenile justice case
  • Utilize the resources of the local CASA program

The winter 2012 issue of The Connection is available on the CASA website: