Cross-systems Collaboration for Crossover Youth: Resources for Professionals

//Cross-systems Collaboration for Crossover Youth: Resources for Professionals

Guest blog post written by Wendy Haight, PhD, and Minhae Cho, MSW, Doctoral student, in partnership with the Center for Advanced Studies in Child Welfare.

“Crossover youth” refers to youth who have experienced some form of maltreatment and also engaged in delinquency (Stewart, Lutz, & Herz, 2010). Research increasingly points to the importance of designing comprehensive, integrated approaches for crossover youth. Such approaches typically involve multi-system collaborations, minimally between child welfare and juvenile justice professionals, but also law enforcement, education, behavioral health, and court personnel (Herz et al., 2012). Multi-system collaboration can reduce unnecessary detention of foster youth who are arrested for misdemeanors and less serious felonies; more comprehensively address their needs, for example, through coordinated case planning and supervision; and may reduce recidivism (Herz & Fontaine, 2012; Herz & Ryan, 2008a; Herz & Ryan, 2008b).

The Crossover Youth Practice Model (CYPM) was developed in collaboration between the Georgetown University Center for Juvenile Justice Reform (CJJR) and Casey Family Programs (Stewart et al., 2010). This intervention targets multiple ecological levels to minimize the involvement of maltreated youth in the juvenile justice system. Cross-system collaboration in CYPM aims to identify crossover youth as early as possible and provide existing services earlier and in a more individualized manner. Youth and family engagement also is fundamental to the CYPM. Family members meet with child welfare and juvenile justice system workers to explore how they can work together at all phases of the CYPM. At the time of this writing, the CYPM has been implemented in 96 counties in 21 states.

The CYPM implementation consists of three phases. Phase I focuses on arrest, identification of crossover youth, and decisions regarding detention and charges. Phase II centers on dual-system case assessment and planning after a youth is formally involved in both systems and Phase III focuses on on¬-going case management and planning for case closure. A number of internal evaluations report positive outcomes of the CYPM including less recidivism and restrictive care, and more diverted dispositions.

In a two-year long, ethnographic study about professionals’ experiences of CYPM implementation in five Midwestern counties (Haight, Bidwell, Marshall, & Khatiwoda, 2014), professionals consistently described structural changes involving improved service provision to youth and families, and procedures and legal mandates for sharing information across departments. Professionals also described positive changes in their ability to promptly identify youth who cross over. A social worker described recent changes in her collaboration with a juvenile in probation:

“I have a kid in lock-up right now who wants to meet me. And, I called (juvenile probation officer) yesterday saying, “Let’s go out and meet this kid together…” And, we are at every court hearing together. Even if it’s just my stuff, I will invite him and he will do…likewise… And, we’re consulting together at meetings about our kids …and trying to do joint recommendations and we always sit together up front so the judge can address us both and I think it’s made it a much more unified process than in the past…” (p. 94).

Professionals also reported positive changes in psychosocial processes during the implementation of the CYPM. A county attorney commented on the impact of psychosocial changes on practice:

“I firmly believe that having more information about kids is going to permit us to make better decisions for our kids and our families….[Now] we will share data. … lots of kids, particularly younger kids, they will come in on…[an] offense and, all of a sudden, you understand that there’s a whole history of how the kid got there. And, there’s been all this social service involvement … at least from the delinquency side, you get a vastly better understanding of what’s happening in the family system” (p. 95).

An external evaluation of the CYPM is consistent with professionals’ perceptions that the CYPM improves outcomes for youth. In an external evaluation of the CYPM using state-level data, Haight and colleagues (2016) examined recidivism rates among crossover youth as an outcome of the Crossover Youth Practice Model (CYPM) in Oak County (pseudonym), an urban county in a Midwestern state. They used a quasi-experimental, post-test only design with independent historical and contemporaneous comparison samples from Oak County and 6 neighboring counties that shared a border with Oak County. They linked state-level data from the State Court Information System with the Child Protection Administrative Data and the Automated Report Student System. Youth receiving CYPM services were less likely to reoffend over a one-year period than youth in the comparison groups receiving “services as usual” even when controlling for location, time and other key covariates.

Despite the positive structural changes and outcomes for crossover youth, multi-system collaborations are challenging because each system has its own complexities, terminology, expectations and sometimes conflicting responses to youth. Within the juvenile justice system, youth often are seen as perpetrators and services are intended to remediate delinquent behaviors, in part, to protect public safety, respond to the needs of victims, and prevent recidivism. In the child welfare system, youth are typically seen as victims in need of protection and nurturing. These differing perspectives can result in tensions between systems in how youth and families are engaged and how services are provided that can challenge cross-systems collaboration.

Lessons learned from the professionals implementing the CYPM and outcomes for crossover youth provide insight into how cross-system collaboration leads to better services targeting crossover youth through cultural systems change efforts. Social workers educated in the use of ecological systems models are in particularly strong positions to provide leadership within implementation teams. Interdisciplinary implementation teams including professionals with backgrounds in law and policy, as well as those with clinical backgrounds, also can help to ensure that mutually reinforcing changes occur at multiple systems levels.

For more information on crossover youth and existing practices for this population, refer to a recent Minn-LInK brief detailing this model and two new learning modules: An Outcome Evaluation of the Crossover Youth Practice Model (CYPM) in Oak County, Minnesota and Crossover Youth in a Developmental, Ecological Framework.

Our fact sheet contains additional information, and keep an eye out for our Twitter and Facebook  posts that will be shared over the next several days.


Center for Juvenile Justice Reform. (2014). The Crossover Youth Practice Model (CYPM): An abbreviated guide. Retrieved from

Herz, D., Lee, P., Lutz, L., Stewart, M., Tuell, J., & Wiig, J. (2012). Addressing the needs of multi-system youth: Strengthening the connection between child welfare and juvenile justice. Retrieved from

Herz, D. C., & Fontaine, A. M. (2012). Final data report for the Crossover Youth Practice Model in King County, Washington. Georgetown University, Center for Juvenile Justice Reform. Retrieved from

Herz, D. C., & Ryan, J. P. (2008a). Building multisystem approaches in child welfare and juvenile justice. Bridging Two Worlds: Youth Involved in the Child Welfare and Juvenile Justice Systems: A Policy Guide for Improving Outcomes, 27-113.

Herz, D. C., & Ryan, J. P. (2008b). Exploring the characteristics and outcomes of 241.1 youth crossing over from dependency to delinquency in Los Angeles County. Center for Families, Children & the Courts Research Update, 1-13.

Haight, W., Bidwell, L., Choi, W. S., & Cho, M. (2016). An evaluation of the Crossover Youth Practice Model (CYPM): Recidivism outcomes for maltreated youth involved in the juvenile justice system. Children and Youth Services Review, 65, 78-85.

Haight, W., Bidwell, L., Marshall, J. & Khatiwoda, P. (2014). Implementing the crossover youth practice model in diverse contexts: Child welfare and juvenile justice professionals’ experiences of multisystem collaborations. Children and Youth Services Review, 39, 91-100.

Stewart, M., Lutz, L., & Herz, D. H. (2010). Crossover Youth Practice Model. Washington, D.C.: Center for Juvenile Justice Reform, Georgetown Public Policy Institute.

By | 2017-01-20T11:28:51+00:00 January 19th, 2017|Categories: Featured@CASCW|Tags: , , |Comments Off on Cross-systems Collaboration for Crossover Youth: Resources for Professionals

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