4 - Cross-System Collaboration

Tenet 4: Improve Cross-System Collaboration

Justice-involved youth overwhelmingly have histories of untreated trauma, victimization, physical and mental health needs, substance abuse issues, and educational delays.[i] Research suggests that well over half of justice-involved youth have experienced the child welfare [ii] or mental health systems.[iii] Too often, these vulnerable youth cross over to the justice system, and may even be confined, as a means to access mental health or substance abuse treatment.[iv] The justice system should never be a dumping ground for youth who have been failed by other systems. It is imperative that jurisdictions work collaboratively across agencies – public health, child welfare, education, labor, housing, etc. – to address the holistic needs of youth and equally share accountability for youths’ well-being and outcomes. Coordinated systems can be achieved by using comprehensive screenings and assessments, applying for and blending funding and jointly implementing effective, appropriate services that benefit youth and families.


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[i] National Juvenile Justice Network, A House Divided No More: Common Cause for Juvenile Justice Advocates, Victim Advocates, and Communities, 2014; Justice Policy Institute, Healing Invisible Wounds: Why Investing in Trauma-Informed Care for Children Makes Sense, 2010; National Child Traumatic Stress Network, Justice System Consortium, Helping Traumatized Children: Tips for Judges. Los Angeles, CA & Durham, NC: National Center for Child Traumatic Stress, 2009.
[ii] Center for Juvenile Justice Reform and Robert F. Kennedy Children’s Action Corps, Addressing the Needs of Multi-System Youth: Strengthening the Connection between Child Welfare and Juvenile Justice, 2013.
[iii] Shufelt, J. & Cocozza, J., Youth with Mental Health Disorders in the Juvenile Justice System: Results from a Multi-State, Multi-System Prevalence Study, Delmar, NY: National Center for Mental Health and Juvenile Justice, 2006; Mental Health and Juvenile Justice Collaborative for Change, Better Solutions for Youth with Mental Health Needs in the Juvenile Justice System, Delmar, NY: National Center for Mental Health and Juvenile Justice, 2014.
[iv] American Psychological Association, Statement on Reforming the Juvenile Justice System to Improve Children’s Lives and Public Safety, U.S. House Committee on Education and Labor in Support of JJDPA, 2010.