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LA County Dual System Youth

Caitlin Scott, Board Member

The child welfare system, juvenile justice system and community-based programs serve some of the most vulnerable members of our society. They deserve the resources, social respect and trust needed to carry out their vital mission

About the Initiative

In LA County, four out of five young people in juvenile detention or probation have previously been referred to child welfare. Many are foster kids. They are not “delinquents,” and childhood trauma has lasting effects throughout their lives. Children involved in both the child welfare system and the juvenile justice system (sometimes called Dual System youth) are more likely to experience recidivism, unemployment, and homelessness as adults.

It takes a village to raise a child. At Reissa, we believe that when a child appears in court, the village needs to step up. It’s an opportunity to take care of that child, with the support to thrive and join the community as a healthy adult.

Foster kids have experienced the trauma not just of removal from their homes, but also from logistical and bureaucratic obstacles. These obstacles prevent foster kids from receiving the help the community has promised. Under the outdated model, the child welfare system and the juvenile justice system did not work together or consider these unique circumstances.

As a result, Dual System Youth face unique challenges:

  • When foster youth are arrested, they’re more likely to be sent to juvenile detention.
  • Foster youth receive harsher sentences, and are less likely to be offered diversion opportunities.
  • Social workers are sometimes resistant to taking on dual system youth, and their cases often languish in the juvenile justice system.
  • Dual system youth often spend more time in detention, even after serving their full sentence, because social workers are unable to place them in homes.
The Goal

With the support of our schools, health and wellness programs, government agencies, community organizations, and other funders, we will work as a village to get traumatized families and children the help they need. We will ensure this help is led and informed by those directly affected. We envision a robust system where child welfare and juvenile justice work together to protect and heal our most vulnerable citizens.


Number of dually involved youth in Los Angeles


Kids on probation have been referred to child welfare


The amount less crossover youth in earn in early adulthood, versus other foster youth
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Focus Areas

To bring about systems-level change for Dual System Youth, our grantmaking and knowledge sharing focuses on:

Funding Research
To better understand the needs of Crossover Youth, combat bias and provide more support.

Building Data Capacity
So people working in different jurisdictions – and their information systems – can share knowledge to improve interventions for Dual System Youth.

Supporting Programs and Evaluation
To raise awareness of Dual System Youth’s unique needs. To share knowledge on what works and what doesn’t, expanding trainings and legal support.

Influencing Policy
By making the case for supporting Dual System Youth, we can ensure continuity in services and help ensure faster, longer-lasting change.