Dual Status Youth

Child Welfare & Juvenile Justice

Self-contained, often unaligned operations of public health, behavioral health, child welfare, education, probation,  and juvenile justice systems have hindered collaboration, coordination, and integration of care and services for youth  involved in the child welfare system. These siloed structures only serve to increase the challenges faced by system-involved youth, who face escalating punitive treatment that can lead to entry into the juvenile justice system, having the unintended consequence of re-traumatizing the youth they seek to support.

Children and youth who have contact with the child welfare system are at higher risk for involvement with the juvenile justice system. When this happens, these youth (often referred to as dual status or crossover youth) are more likely to experience not just the negative effects associated with either the child welfare or the juvenile system, but also the outcomes that result from being a part of both systems.Dual status youth face additional issues as a result of complex trauma— exposure to multiple traumatic incidents that are often repeated, prolonged, and extreme, and can affect child physical, social, and emotional development. Up to 60 percent of youth in the juvenile justice system have a diagnosable mental health disorder. To make matters worse,  youth of color are overrepresented at every stage of the delinquency process—from arrest to secure detention, confinement, and transfer to the adult system.

California and other states must break the cycle for dual status youth by increasing access to family supports and services that will help youth heal and develop resilience; creating safeguards that prevent multi-system contact; and investing in positive youth development to facilitate their transition into healthy and successful adults. The adoption of innovative strategies and policies that work toward these goals will not just improve health, developmental and learning outcomes for dual-status youth, but also help prepare them for a brighter future.

Upcoming Events

Developing a Trauma-Informed Roadmap to Prevent Juvenile Justice Involvement of Child Welfare Youth: A Moral and Fiscal Imperative April 30th, 2018 • Washington, DC The Children’s Partnership and the Robert F. Kennedy National Resource Center for Juvenile Justice is hosting an invite-only, single-day convening in Washington, D.C. on April 30th, 2018. The event will explore the best practices, lessons learned, and proposed recommendations – including leveraging technology and integrating trauma-informed systems-of-care – central to improving outcomes for dual status youth through cross-sector coordination, collaboration, and accountability. Participants will include policymakers; federal, state, and local leaders; advocates; youth leaders; and researchers from across the country representing the child welfare, probation, juvenile justice, health, behavioral health, and education systems will help contribute to a roadmap forward. If you have any questions regarding the convening or would like to submit questions for participants, please contact Sonia Martinez at

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