The goal of this project is to develop new knowledge about dual-system youth in Los Angeles County by onboarding, linking, and analyzing probation records (under the authority of the LA County Probation Department) and child protection records (under the authority of the California Department of Social Services). It would build upon and extend our recent dual-system youth analysis by linking the entire population of probation youth (not just a sample of youth exiting probation placements) to the entire population of youth with a history of child welfare involvement. Linking the entire population of probation youth to child protection records would help us better characterize dual-system youth (i.e., youth concurrently or non-concurrently involved in the probation and child protection systems), understand their pathways into dual-involvement, and identify factors associated with recidivism and permanency.
Overview of Findings
A total of 6,877 youth with a juvenile justice petition in Los Angeles County between 2014 and 2016 were matched to statewide child protection records. Findings indicate that two-thirds of juvenile justice involved youth were documented to have involvement with the child welfare system (i.e., were investigated for maltreatment, a case opened for services, or placement in foster care). The majority of these youth did not touch both systems at the same time, and nearly all had contact with child welfare before juvenile justice. Patterns of dual system involvement varied by gender and race/ethnicity. Female youth in all racial/ethnic groups were more likely than their male counterparts to have dual system involvement, and Black youth were more likely than youth from other racial/ethnic groups to have dual system involvement. Notable gender by race/ethnicity dynamics emerged: 80% of Black females were identified as having dual system involvement compared to 55% of White males. Comparisons of dual system involvement pathways revealed that youth with the most extensive child welfare involvement had the greatest risk of juvenile justice detention and of subsequent recidivism. Results underscore the importance of a prevention-oriented approach to supporting children, youth, and families across the board, both to prevent and reduce contact with child welfare and to reduce delinquency and dual system involvement.