Report

Crossover Youth: Los Angeles County Probation Youth with Previous Referrals to Child Protective Services

October 2017

A new study finds that the troubles of the hundreds of youth leaving the juvenile justice system in Los Angeles County each year may have started at home in early childhood.

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The California State Los Angeles School of Criminalistics and Criminal Justice, in collaboration in the Children’s Data Network (CDN) at the USC Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work, conducted a retrospective analysis of the timing and degree of previous involvement with the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) for a recent cohort of Probation youth. The goal of this study was to examine the proportion of youth with intensive Probation involvement who had also touched the child protection system at an earlier point in their lives, but were not necessarily known to both systems simultaneously. It was designed to identify possible touch points when prevention-oriented family support and strengthening could have helped to resolve family problems at an earlier stage, potentially preventing later entry into the juvenile justice system.

This new study linked administrative records for youth leaving Probation supervision with data on previous referrals to Child Protective Services. Findings document that most youth had a history of maltreatment referrals, including many dating back to early childhood. Study findings call attention to a significant group of “crossover” youth who came to the attention of child protective services when they were quite young, well before they became involved in the delinquency system.