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New data may help to identify and resolve family problems at an early stage, in order to prevent later entry into the juvenile justice system

November 6, 2017

Findings from a recent study revealed that most youth with intensive Probation involvement had also touched the child protection system at an earlier point in their lives, including many dating back to early childhood. Study findings highlight a significant group, described as “crossover” youth, or youth who came to the attention of child protective services at a young age, well before being involved in the juvenile delinquency system.

Photo courtesy of Children’s Data Network.

The California State Los Angeles School of Criminalistics and Criminal Justice, in collaboration with the Children’s Data Network at the University of Southern California 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 for a recent cohort of youth who have been involved in the Probation system.

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.

Due to the high rates of early maltreatment, the findings demonstrate that there is a need for a more systematic approach to connecting families to available resources when a maltreatment referral is reported. Doing so could help families resolve problems earlier, enhancing a child’s safety in the short term as well as decreasing the need for law enforcement or Probation involvement at a later stage.

Analysis of the findings also encourages the field to adopt a county-wide prevention approach, which could provide significant opportunity to align public and private resources so that families could be supported earlier on in a child’s life.

Crossover Youth

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

Read the study

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