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December/January 2022Vol. 22, No. 11Collaborative Interventions Between the Child Welfare and Juvenile Justice Systems to Better Serve D

A recent article in the National Institute of Justice Journal explores the distinctive needs of youth who experience both the child welfare and juvenile justice systems also known as dual-system youth. The article suggests there is a need for functional data linkages between the two systems to better serve these children and youth.

Many youth who become involved with the juvenile justice system as a result of delinquent behavior also have experience with the child welfare system, according to a California State University, Los Angeles study cited in the article. Without collaboration between child welfare services and juvenile justice, it is difficult to know what interventions will be effective for these dual-system youth. Data linkages between the two systems could drive more collaborative case management; inform and refine best practices for working with youth; and identify trajectories, interventions, trends, and possible reforms. In addition, the article provides strategies these systems can implement to better serve the needs of this population, including the following:

  • Adopt integrated data systems between child welfare and juvenile justice agencies. 
  • Develop and disseminate best practices for dual-system youth that are measured in milestones.
  • Promote collaboration between juvenile justice, child welfare, and other service agencies, including judicial leadership.
  • Implement policies, starting at the federal level, focused on preventing maltreatment, preventing delinquency among young people who experience maltreatment, and supporting the integration of practices for dual-system youth. 
The article concludes by recommending an indepth national assessment of data on youth who experience both the child welfare and juvenile justice systems to advance both research and practice strategies. It suggests that these youth merit timely identification and collaborative service delivery and that systems assess and evaluate their service delivery and its impact on outcomes.