Webinar on Dual Status Youths Stresses Need for System Collaboration

Posted by Edward Loughran
May 27, 2014

Anyone who works in youth corrections can open the file of any youth in the system and read about early childhood abuse and maltreatment.  For years this information was mostly anecdotal, but delinquency research in the last decade shows that physical and sexual abuse for a youth is often associated with delinquency in adolescence.  Evidence also suggests that the early occurrence of maltreatment may increase the variety, seriousness and duration of problems: increased risk for mental health issues (suicide attempts and post-traumatic stress disorder), educational issues (extremely low IQ scores and reading ability), occupational difficulties (high rates of unemployment and employment in low-level service jobs) and public health and safety issues (prostitution in males and females and alcohol problems in females).

The Robert F. Kennedy (RFK) National Resource Center for Juvenile Justice recently presented a webinar “Dual Status Youth and Their Families: Altering the Human and Fiscal Toll Through Improved System Outcomes” for the Council of Juvenile Correctional Administrators’ (CJCA) Resource Network for Youth Corrections Leaders and Professional.  The CJCA Resource Network aims to transfer knowledge, innovations and practical reform developed by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation Models for Change (MfC) reform initiative.  The webinar on dual status youth is one of a series of webinars and open forums aimed at educating juvenile justice and youth corrections practitioners about solutions to contemporary problems in juvenile justice by MfC technical assistance providers.

John Tuell, Executive Director of the RFK National Resource Center for Juvenile Justice, and Jessica Heldman, Associate Executive Director, presented the webinar with the goal to improve the handling of and outcomes for dual status youths— adolescents who are currently involved with the juvenile justice system and child welfare system—in state and county jurisdictions. 

John presented a brief history of the development of the dual status youth initiative and the framework for collaboration between juvenile justice and the child welfare system.  The collaboration between the two systems aims to improve outcomes for youth and reduce their unnecessary penetration deeper into the juvenile and criminal justice systems.  Jessica then reviewed findings of the research that demonstrated the relationship between early childhood neglect and abuse and subsequent involvement in the juvenile justice system.

John also highlighted one of the current initiatives of the RFK National Resource Center for Juvenile Justice: a grant to the Massachusetts Department of Youth Services (DYS) from the CJCA Resource Network to improve the decision-making and outcomes for dual status youths in Essex and Suffolk Counties in MA.  The technical assistance now underway helps develop creative, cost-effective ways to provide targeted support to a group of agencies, organizations, systems and individuals in order to:

  • Assess gaps and barriers and identify potential responses to address cross system issues;
  • Develop a strategic plan for long-term change; and
  • Create innovative approaches and implementation plans to address an emerging complex issue.

Resources that will guide this initiative are:

Join CJCA for our next webinar in the series, “Earn to Learn PACTT,” on Friday, July 18, 2014. Look out for the registration announcement on the blog.