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May 2016Vol. 17, No. 3Delinquency Prevention Pilot

Youth involved with child welfare are often at higher risk of becoming involved in delinquent offenses and of subsequent involvement with the juvenile justice system. While California's Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) had an existing program focused on youth already dually involved in the child welfare and juvenile justice systems, DCFS and the National Council on Crime and Delinquency (NCCD) worked to develop an assessment to help identify children and youth involved with DCFS at risk of delinquency and juvenile justice involvement. A NCCD report addresses background information on the project, successes and challenges related to implementation, an initial evaluation of the program's effectiveness, and recommendations for improving implementation.

The assessment was piloted by four DCFS offices as part of the Delinquency Prevention Pilot (DPP). According to the report, evaluators were not able to come to definitive conclusions about the effectiveness of DPP due to limitations in service delivery and outcome data (e.g., services provided and required, how many youth were arrested after enrollment in DPP services) and challenges related to implementation fidelity. However, the following are some key lessons learned:

  • The commitment of Los Angeles County DCFS was vital to the success of the DPP.
  • Effectiveness was affected by changes in leadership; limited access to required resources; and access to objective data related to education, mental health, and substance use status.
  • In order to track service delivery and examine the effectiveness of those services on youth outcomes, agencies need to record more comprehensive service and outcome data.
  • In order to evaluate a program, the agency needs to commit to continuing the program for a long enough period of time to implement and evaluate implementation through a process evaluation, and allowing time for a sufficient follow-up period (at least 1 to 3 years).

The report's appendices include the delinquency prevention screening assessment and sample DPP practice model. Access the report, A Profile of Youth in the Los Angeles County Delinquency Prevention Pilot, at (2 MB).