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Listen to Crossover Girls Talk About Their Reality, Then Act

Recently, Rebecca Burney and Larson Binzer called for the voices of girls in the justice system to be heard. We extend their plea, adding the vitality of the voices of girls caught up not only in the justice system,

“Crossover Youth”: The Intersection of Child Welfare & Juvenile Justice

Crossover youth is more than the latest buzzword in the often jargon-filled lexicon of juvenile justice. Instead, the term reflects a growing understanding of the dynamic between child abuse, neglect and delinquency. This population of young people has contact with both the child welfare and juvenile justice systems.

Addressing child welfare is challenging enough, let alone when joined with deeper problems of delinquency. Abused young people often carry scars of trauma and pain, which can inform delinquent behavior that leads to subsequent contact with the juvenile justice system. However, the complex challenges and needs of crossover youth often prove too much for each system alone to address.

Youth Involved in Both Foster Care and Juvenile Justice Struggle At Unexpected Rate, LA Study Finds

Crossover youth, as young adults with dual involvement in foster care and juvenile justice systems are called, face a variety of challenges when entering adulthood, and they carry a high public cost. That is according to the first-ever study of youth in foster care and on probation in Los Angeles County. Although it’s widely known that crossover youth are worse off than other youth, this study — Young Adult Outcomes of Youth Exiting Dependent or Delinquent Care in Los Angeles County, which was funded by the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation — shows that crossover youth experience negative outcomes at twice the rate. “We didn’t realize crossover youth would have such striking distance,” Dennis Culhane, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania and one of the study’s six authors, told Youth Today. “We knew it would find they’d be troubled, but didn’t expect this difference of degree to show up.”

Currently, according to examined data from 2002 to 2009, crossover youth cost about three times more public service dollars than youth who are only in foster care.