The way states organize the administration of child welfare and juvenile justice varies widely across the country and may influence a state’s ability to coordinate services between the two systems.
When states centralize administration of child welfare and juvenile justice through a single state-level department, as is the case in seven states, structural barriers to coordination may be reduced.
In almost one half of the states, one or more aspects of the child protection or the core juvenile justice intervention systems are decentralized.
- Systems Integration: Child Welfare and Juvenile Justice (JJGPS StateScan, 2014).
- When Systems Collaborate: How Three Systems Improved Their Handling of Dual-Status Cases (JJGPS CaseStudy, 2015).
As part of the JJGPS project state-level juvenile justice professionals were interviewed using a semi-structured protocol during the winter of 2013-14. During the work, dual-status youth were defined as youth with either current or past involvement in the child welfare and juvenile justice systems. The following broad view themes were identified with the interviews.
- Data sharing: Facilitated through the use of statewide information systems allowing for consistent data sharing between systems. At least five states—Delaware, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Rhode Island, and Vermont—have a single automated information systems housing both child welfare and a broad range of juvenile justice data.
- Committees or advisory groups: Multidisciplinary groups that have a formal status and mission of improving systems integration on behalf of dual-status youth. This is more common in decentralized states.
- Formal interagency memorandums of understanding (MOUs): Collaborative agreements to guide systems integration efforts. Nine states—Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Idaho, Louisiana, New Hampshire, Washington, and Wisconsin—have both formal and informal agreements.
- Informal agency agreements: Commonly based on historical practice, mutual trust, and recognition of the need to collaborate in order to serve dual-status youth.
- State and/or court rules: Rules that mandate systems integration efforts. This was more common in decentralized states. One-third of decentralized states had these rules.
Almost half of states do not share data on dual-status youth at the state level. However, many of these states have system integration innovation sites at the local level. These efforts frequently have benefited from technical assistance and training resource centers like the Robert F. Kennedy Children's Action Corps and the Center for Juvenile Justice Reform at Georgetown University (CJJR).
The RFK National Resource Center for Juvenile Justice is part of the Resource Center Partnership created by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation to advance solutions in critical areas of juvenile justice reform. The National Resource Center assists jurisdictions in the areas of dual status youth reform, juvenile probation system review and improvement, and information sharing.
CJJR additionally provides immersion training opportunities through certificate programs designed to promote leadership on systems integration matters. The Center's Multi-System Integration models are being implemented in jurisdictions across the country both at the county and state-level.
|State||Data sharing||Committees or advisory groups||Formal interagency MOUs||Informal interagency agreements||Statute and/or court rules|
|Number of states||27||22||19||18||15|
|Single agency integration|
|Partial single agency integration (not including probation)|
|Umbrella agency integration (separate division/offices)|
|Partial umbrella agency integration (not including probation)|
|Separate state-level centralized agencies|
|One or all are decentralized|
|District of Columbia|
There is no national statistic available on the prevalence of dual-status youth in child welfare and juvenile justice. However, the U.S. Children’s Bureau requires states that receive a certain type of federal funding (Title IV-B) to submit yearly updates towards their five-year plan for strengthening their child welfare system. One of the mandated reporting requirements is “Juvenile Justice Transfers” defined as “the number of children under the care of the State child protection system who were transferred into the custody of the State juvenile justice system in the Federal Fiscal Year.”
The data in this section were drawn from a mixture of the following state child welfare reports:
- Child and Family Services Plans (CFSP)
- Annual Progress and Services Reports (APSR)
- Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA) Plans
These data are only a subset of dual-status youth and should be used with caution as they represent different data sources and units of count. Additionally, some states, noted with astericks, present greater detail and address more current time periods than others. Notes are included for examples that have known accuracy issues or are dated. These data, nonetheless, provide a starting point for discussion of national reporting requirements and diving into individual states where reporting may provide helpful insights.
Readers are encouraged to access the original data sources via the links provided in the publications lists for a full understanding of the state juvenile justice transfer data.
Click a state to see the data it reports. *Different or additional detail reported
The following states are either not reporting consistent information, report zero transfers over time or that state otherwise prohibits the transfer from child welfare to juvenile justice:
Progressive data 2014
Developing dual-status youth prevalence data frequently requires merging administrative data from various automated data systems. Notwithstanding the federal requirement explored in the previous topic, ongoing measurement is rare. Five states publish state-wide prevalence statistics on a regular basis and Washington updates sophisticated research databases that support the advancement of dual-status youth research.
Placement and Delinquency Trajectories of Youth with Active Juvenile Court Dependency Cases (Seattle, WA) (NCJJ Research Brief, 2015).