The Causes, Correlates and Pathways of Multi-System Youth

On July 26, 2012, I attended the OJJDP and NTTAC webinar on the causes, correlates and pathways of multi-system youth. This was the first webinar in a series on improving outcomes for multi-system involved youth who cross over between child welfare and juvenile justice.

The following take-aways are from the first portion, presented by Dr. Denise Herz:

  • Two of the most important predictors for crossing into delinquency are the number of referrals to the child welfare system and experiencing abuse persistently from early childhood into adolescence.
  • Often youth will have a previous but not current child welfare case at the time of delinquency. If youth in the juvenile justice system are found to have a prior child welfare referral, it is important to revisit the child welfare case and to ensure that there is not current maltreatment.
  • Risk factors for delinquency for those in the child welfare system include placement instability and the absence of pro-social bonds. Living in a group home has been found to increase the likelihood of delinquency compared to other types of placements.
  • Child welfare and juvenile justice can’t do this alone. They need strong support and partnerships with behavioral health treatment and education. In particular, engaging and stabilizing youth in an educational placement can provide long-term improvements.

These are my take-aways from the portion presented by John Tuell:

  • As with any multi-system reform project, strong leadership and a well-established governance and management structure is key.
  • Prevent youth from crossing over by examining and adjusting policies and practices related to arrest, detention, petition and adjudication; engage law enforcement, school officials, foster and group home personnel; share information to improve decision-making.
  • Engaging the family and community improves outcomes. Include the family in case-planning and in the leadership team.
  • Always consider the plan for permanency at the outset of a case and ensure that positive youth development and a strength-based approach are part of the way business is done.

The webinar was hosted by OJJDP in coordination with Georgetown University's Center for Juvenile Justice Reform.

Cora Crary manages the creation, development and implementation of tools and resources for the Reclaiming Futures learning collaborative. In this role, Cora assists sites with their use of the website, online resources, webinars and related tools. Prior to working with Reclaiming Futures, Cora spent six years managing and developing website projects. Cora received her bachelor's degree at The Evergreen State College.
*Photo at top by Flickr user eyeliam

Updated: August 01 2012