A.5: Examining the Risks Associated with Crossover Youth: Dual Involvement with the Child Welfare and Juvenile Justice Systems
Abstract: Purpose: A high proportion of adolescent youth involved with child welfare have concurrent involvement with the youth criminal justice system (YCJA). Known as cross-over or dual-system youth (Bala, et al., 2015), these youth pose unique risks, however there is a dearth of evidence informing policy and practice. This analysis was conducted to highlight key risks and identify directions for policy and intervention.
Method: The authors conducted secondary analysis of the Alberta Incidence Study of Reported Child Abuse and Neglect (AIS) to compare dual-system youth (12-17 years of age with concurrent child welfare and YCJA involvement) to single-system youth (12-17 years of age with only child welfare involvement). Chi-Square analyses were conducted to examine the relationship between dual-system status with a range of child factors (age, gender, function and risks), household factors (caregiver risk factors, family status, employment, household risks) and case factors (previous openings, substantiation, placement).
Findings: Significant numbers of youth involved in Child Intervention in Alberta have concurrent involvement with the YCJA. Almost two thirds of all dual-system youth were investigated for neglect (64.5%) and these investigations reflected higher rates of repeated openings and placements in care. When compared to single-system youth, dual-system youth had higher rates of suicidal thoughts, self-harming behaviour, ADD/ADHD, attachment concerns, aggression to others, running away, inappropriate sexual behaviour, intellectual and developmental disability, failure to meet developmental milestones, academic difficulties, FAS/FAE, alcohol abuse and drug/solvent abuse. No significant differences were noted for severity of maltreatment (emotional or physical severity), and household and parental risk factors were generally lower for dual-system youth.
Implications: This analysis sets the context for understanding the elevated risks associated with dual-system involvement for adolescents in Alberta. Discussion will highlight potential policy and practice shifts to better meet the needs of this population.