Blog: Crossover Youth

Educational Needs of System-Involved Youth

I am pleased to share with you the second edition of “Addressing the Unmet Educational Needs of Children and Youth in the Juvenile Justice and Child Welfare Systems.” Due to the popularity of the first edition, CJJR is re-releasing this publication with updated material. The updates include references to guides that the National Evaluation and Technical Assistance Center for the Education of Children and Youth Who Are Neglected, Delinquent, or At-Risk (NDTAC), which is housed at the American Institutes for Research, has developed to elaborate upon the principles this paper presents. Since the time this paper was originally released, two guides have been published:

These guides draw on both general research and on the experiences of the NDTAC authors to provide concrete strategies for adopting this paper’s principles and practices and achieving the type of comprehensive education system the authors describe. Both of these guides are described in the epilogue of this paper.

Mentoring Can Set Foster Youth on a Path Toward Success (and Away from Juvenile Justice System)

“My future is to have a happy family, have a career, be something in life, be a role model, and teach people the right thing.” These are the aspirations of one ninth grade foster youth at the Arise Academy Charter High School. Unfortunately, for too many youth in foster care, without the necessary guidance and support from committed and caring adults, dreams often fade into a harsh and bitter struggle for survival. Nationally, more than 20,000 youth age out of foster care annually and their surrogate parents—state child welfare systems—try to prepare youth with the essential knowledge, skills, supports and social networks to navigate the challenges of adulthood. But the state hasn’t proved to be a very nurturing parent and social workers can only do so much. Foster youth need adults in their lives, outside of the system, who will listen, share their time, care and experiences, and show and connect them to alternative pathways that heighten their chances to have productive and hopeful adult lives.
Study after study focuses on the dire life outcomes that foster youth tend to experience when they leave care. Facing chronic unemployment, low levels of academic achievement, poverty, homelessness, incarceration, and early pregnancy and parenting is enough to make you think these are throwaway youth—too difficult to help. A recent report reinforces the challenge by demonstrating that older youth in foster care are at greatest risk for disconnection—neither in school, vocational training nor the workforce. Without the network of friends, family and caring adults that most youth outside the system enjoy, how can the social skills needed to succeed be developed? Who can provide them with the emotional, psychological, financial, and other supports, necessary to sustain a connection with mainstream economic and educational opportunities? These are questions that I deal with daily at the Stoneleigh Foundation. But I also can’t accept that abused and neglected youth, who have experienced multiple traumatic experiences in their lives, need be subjected to a long life of struggle as an adult—menial jobs, teen parenting, unstable housing, cash assistance? It’s immoral, and these children deserve the most that our community has to offer them. Every day I wake up knowing that something must and can be done.

Most Popular Juvenile Justice Blog Posts | October 2012

Did you miss some of our blog posts last month? Not to worry - here's a round-up of our most popular posts from October 2012.
10. [NEW REPORT] Community Solutions for Youth in Trouble
Over the past few years, Texas has shifted youth rehabilitation from large state-run facilities to smaller community programs. And they're seeing great results.
9. October is National Youth Justice Awareness Month
Last month, over 20 states are holding events to raise awareness about youth justice issues and the juvenile justice system.
8. 7 Core Principles to Change the Course of Youth Justice
A new article from the New York Law School Law Review examines problems with the juvenile justice system and offers solutions for a more productive youth justice system.
7. NC Teens, Police, Community Join Forces to Stop Bullying Epidemic 
Recognizing the need to address bullying in schools, young people in North Carolina partnered with police officers and community members to create a short movie against bullying.

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: