The Crossover Youth Practice Model Serves Youth Caught Between the Juvenile Justice and Child Welfare Systems

The McCourt School’s Center for Juvenile Justice Reform (CJJR) aims to improve the outcomes for young people who continuously transition between the child welfare and juvenile justice systems using its Crossover Youth Practice Model (CYPM).

The CYPM was launched in 2010 provides aid for local communities throughout the United States to implement a formalized case management system that identifies and assists young people who have experienced some form of abuse, neglect, engaged in acts of delinquency, and may be caught between the child welfare and juvenile justice systems, referred to as “cossover youth.”

“The model seeks to create a mechanism by which communities are able to enhance how they serve these young people, and that includes such things as having a formalized process for identifying who these young people are and for impacting different areas along the trajectory that a young person faces when they’re engaging with those systems,” says Macon Steward, the overseer of the CJJR’s implementation of the model and the deputy director of multi-system operations.

Approach and Outcomes

CJJR has worked with more than 100 counties in 23 states. The model’s team approach integrates the voices of crossover youth as well as their families. CJJR has also worked Prince George’s County in Maryland resulting in better communication within the Departments of Social Services (DSS) and more informed decisions regarding crossover youths.

“We are no longer duplicating services,” says Kwabena Tuffour, who works with DJS as the metro intake director for both Prince George’s and Montgomery Counties in Maryland. “Prior to this model we had no idea what DSS was doing, but because we are working very close together—we attend hearings together, we attend staffing on both ends—we know exactly what services the child is receiving on the DJS and the DSS side.”

Tuffour claims the DJS staff can now locate youth who have received a police report and contact their foster parents or DSS staff more easily. The process prevents the case from automatically going to the state’s attorney office if the young person fails to go for an intake conference where DJS staff decide on the child’s case.

Other impact measures include reductions in recidivism, a decrease in the number of young people who are being arrested, and a reduction in the number of young people who are placed in group homes or out-of-home settings. Stewart says research shows that youth who are placed with families have a lower likelihood of engaging with law enforcement. In addition, the center will continue to expand the model’s reach into communities throughout the U.S., helping to launch sustainable and more fully integrated systems, “so that once Georgetown completes their support of implementation of the model, the work will remain solid and intact.”

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