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Dual System Youth: At the Intersection of Child Maltreatment and Delinquency

NCJ Number
NIJ Journal
Date Published
August 2021
11 pages

This National Institute of Justice article examines "dual system youth," a subset of crossover youth who have entered both the child welfare and juvenile justice systems.


Dual system youth are a subset of “crossover youth” — juveniles who have been both victims of maltreatment and engaged in delinquent acts. The dual system youth population consists of crossover youth who have entered, at some point, both the child welfare and juvenile justice systems. As a vulnerable and high-risk group, dual system youth cannot be effectively identified and served without a culture of collaboration between both systems. This NIJ Journal article outlines a brief history of the ways policymakers have understood and responded to dual system youth. It then details the findings of the recent Dual System Youth Design Study, which examined three jurisdictions with well-developed data linkages between juvenile justice and child welfare. The study offers a typology of the pathways taken by dual system youth, supplemented with case studies that highlight ways for jurisdictions to prevent maltreatment and delinquency. The article closes with a list of areas for reform put forward by the study’s authors, including support for community-based alternatives to removing children and youth from their families and funding to construct better data systems.

Date Published: August 1, 2021