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A Guide to Legal and Policy Analysis for Systems Integration

Published Feb 1, 2006, Jessica K. Heldman

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Research has recently confirmed what practitioners have known for years: that there is a link between child maltreatment and delinquency and therefore the systems created to address these issues are undeniably related. The child welfare and juvenile justice systems often serve the same clients, respond to many of the same issues, and share many of the same goals. However, these systems have traditionally operated in seclusion from one another.

Communities across the country are acknowledging the link between these two systems and are responding by bringing agencies together to consider how they can best serve their common clients, often referred to as dually involved youth. Such collaborations focus on eliminating the duplication of assessments and services, providing seamless processes easily navigable by families, reducing the time spent in detention, strengthening families and stabilizing home environments, reducing recidivism, and improving overall outcomes for dually involved youth. To reach these goals, communities are developing interagency strategies such as pooling resources, increasing information sharing, formalizing interagency case coordination, and establishing cross-systems training of staff.

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Models for Change is supported by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, website operated by Justice Policy Institute.