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Dual System Youth and Their Pathways: A Comparison of Incidence, Characteristics and System Experiences Using Linked Administrative Data

NCJ Number
Journal of Youth and Adolescence Volume: 48 Dated: 2019 Pages: 2432-2450
Date Published
August 2019
19 pages

This study reviewed what is currently known about dual-system youth generally (i.e., youth who have contact with both the juvenile justice and child welfare systems), and it introduces a framework for consistently defining dual system youth and their pathways.


Insight into the characteristics and system experiences for youth who have contact with both the child welfare and juvenile justice systems has increased over the last decade. These youth are typically studied as one population and referred to as "crossover youth." Although the relevant literature contributes insight into the characteristics of crossover youth, studies have not addressed the distinguishing characteristics and experiences of youth across various pathways leading to dual system contact. In introducing a framework for consistently defining dual system youth and their pathways, the current study examined the utility of the framework by using linked administrative data for cohorts of youth ages 10 to 18 years old with a first petition to delinquency court in three sites. The sites are Cook County, Illinois between 2010 and 2014 (n=14,170; Cuyahoga County, Ohio between 2010 and 2014 (n=11,441); and New York City between 2013 and 2014 (n=1,272). The findings show a high prevalence of dual system contact overall, ranging from 44.8 to 70.3 percent, as well as wide variation in the ways in which youth contacted both systems. Non-concurrent system contact was more prevalent than concurrent system contact in all sites, and individual characteristics and system experiences varied within and across these different pathway groups. Based on the study's findings, implications are discussed for future research on dual-system youth and for developing collaborative practices and policies across the systems. 7 tables and 36 references (publisher abstract modified)

Date Published: August 1, 2019