Behavioral Health Issues Plague Children in Welfare, Justice Systems
Children in California and other states who are involved in both the child welfare and juvenile justice systems tend to have more behavioral health problems and high rates of detention as the result of poorly coordinated services, the Center for Public Integrity reports.
According to the Center for Public Integrity, tens of thousands of children annually are involved in both the juvenile justice and child welfare programs. Such children often are referred to as "dual-status."
A 2014 Robert F. Kennedy Children's Action Corps report found that dual-status children are more likely than non-dual status children to have:
- Significant behavioral health problems;
- Higher rates of detentions and recidivism;
- Poorer performance in school; and
- More frequent changes of placement.
In 2011, a study funded by the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation found that among 330 dual-status children in Los Angeles County, nearly two-thirds had been jailed within four years of leaving the juvenile system. Further, dual-status children in Los Angeles were:
- More likely to rely on public services; and
- Less likely to attain higher education or be consistently employed.
Efforts in California
Several states and counties have been working to better coordinate services provided by the child welfare and juvenile justice systems, according to the Center for Public Integrity.
For example, the Dually Involved Youth Initiative in Santa Clara County has worked to "bridge the divide" between the two systems.
Neha Desai, an attorney for the organization, said, "Probation officers and social workers have never, ever worked together before -- because it was a combative relationship, and now it's a collaborative one."
Probation officers and social workers now can collaborate through the initiative in the new Family Resource Center in San Jose. The center provides dual-status children with services, such as:
- Health care workshops; and
- Assistance with housing, job applications and legal issues (Gately, Center for Public Integrity, 1/18).