At the December 11, 2013, meeting, the Commission on Improving the Status of Children voted to create a task force on coordinating the services for crossover youth — children who are in the CHINS (abuse and neglect) and juvenile delinquency systems simultaneously — according to a report by Marisa Kwiatkowski. At this time, minutes from the meeting have not been published.
These crossover youth present unique challenges to the court participants to ensure that there is not a duplication of services, and that adequate, appropriate services are being provided to address the child’s myriad of needs.
The Child Welfare Information Gateway has links to several research and policy papers about the prevalence of these crossover cases and strategies to build a collaborative model with involved courts, agencies, and service providers.
The topic could be expanded slightly during the task force discussions to include a broader definition of crossover youth to include those who have spent years in and out of the CHINS system and are now facing juvenile delinquency charges. Too often, the abuse and/or neglect issues that swept the child into the CHINS system have not been remedied, whether the CHINS case was closed along the way or not. When the child is older and runs away from home, stops attending school, steals because of poverty issues, etc., the child often faces delinquency allegations. The probation officers, prosecutors, and defense attorneys basically have to “reinvent the wheel” by learning extensive amounts about the family’s history to provide meaningful services. The reality is that the issues remain the same as during the CHINS case — how to put a safety net under the child to ensure that the child’s needs are met and the child has the tools to deal with the ongoing issues in the home environment.