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Home > Juvenile Justice Division > Other Links and Resources > Final Report Juvenile Justice On-line Survey

 
 

Raising the Level of Awareness between Child Maltreatment and Juvenile Delinquency:
Results of an On-line Survey

Final Report Juvenile Justice
On-line Survey

Executive Summary

The Child Welfare League of America has conducted a survey of juvenile justice probation divisions or court services units on the extent to which the juvenile justice and child welfare systems collaborate to serve juvenile offenders with histories of maltreatment. Maltreatment is defined as the reported or substantiated history of physical abuse, sexual abuse, or neglect. The findings that follow address systems' policies, protocols and technological infrastructure, such as Management Information Systems, that facilitate integrated service delivery to these youthful offenders.

Major Findings
  • Approximately three of four juvenile justice agencies responding to the survey had policies, procedures, or regulations supporting collaboration with child welfare agencies who have custody of juvenile offenders with histories of maltreatment.

  • Levels of inter-agency collaboration were similar regardless of the size of the population within the agency's jurisdiction.

  • Nearly nine in ten responding agencies did not have a program designed to serve juvenile offenders who have been identified as previous victims of maltreatment.

  • Less than one-half of respondents in agencies who did not have programs targeting this population of juvenile offenders indicated that such programs should exist.

  • Nearly nine of ten respondents reported that they did not know if institutionalized processes existed by which there agency could access information on juvenile offenders history of maltreatment.

  • Nearly one half of agencies responding to the survey reported that their division or unit did not have an MIS that aggregated data relative to prior maltreatment.

  • Agencies in the largest jurisdictions (greater than 100,000), approximately one-in-three of this group, were more likely to have Management Information Systems that would facilitate interagency collaboration and information sharing on youthful offenders who had been the victims of maltreatment.

  • Only one in three agencies reported that information documenting a history of maltreatment was reported at the entry point to the juvenile justice system (the arrest report).

  • Regardless of agency's jurisdiction size, information on prior maltreatment is inconsistently documented as youth proceed through the juvenile justice system from arrest to placement in a juvenile correction facility.

    Figure i
    Policy, Procedure, or Regulation that Support Interagency Collaboration


  • Approximately three-quarters of the respondents (74%) indicated that their Probation Division or Court Services Unit has a policy, procedure, or regulation that supports collaboration with the agency responsible for victims of child maltreatment.

    Figure ii
    Policy, Procedure, or Regulation that Support Interagency Collaboration by Size of Jurisdiction
  • The existence of Probation Division/Court Services Unit policies, procedures, or regulations supporting interagency collaboration did not significantly differ by jurisdiction's population size.

    Figure iii
    Programs or Projects Designed to Serve Juvenile Offenders Identified as Previous Victims of Child Maltreatment
  • Nearly nine of ten respondents (88%) reported that their Probation Division or Court Services Unit did not have a program or project designed to serve juvenile delinquents identified as previous victims of child maltreatment. There was no statistical difference in the provision of these programs by jurisdictions' population size.

    Figure iv
    Should your Probation Division or Court Service Unit have Programs or Projects Designed to Serve Juvenile Offenders Identified as Previous Victims of Child Maltreatment?


  • Fewer than one-half of the respondents (48%) whose agency did not have a program or project indicated that their Probation Division or Court Service Unit should have a program or project designed to serve juvenile delinquents identified as previous victims of child maltreatment.
In summary, the survey findings indicate:
  • a need for increased awareness of the link between juvenile offending and maltreatment,

  • formalization of policies and protocols to facilitate collaborative programs designed specifically for this group of offenders, and

  • enhancement of technological infrastructure (MIS) to improve interagency collaboration, information sharing, and service integration.


Final Report Juvenile Justice
On-line Survey

Background

The Juvenile Justice Division and the Research and Evaluation Unit of the Child Welfare League of America have jointly conducted a survey to identify programs and policies that address the critical link between child maltreatment and juvenile delinquency. The survey was designed to:

  1. Gather more information on the number, nature, and scope of the collaborative efforts of child welfare and juvenile justice systems specifically designed to serve the population of delinquents with previous histories of maltreatment.

  2. Determine if protocols and processes exist to foster collaborative efforts between the juvenile justice and child welfare systems,

  3. Identify the decision-making points at which information on previous involvement in the child welfare system is collected by the juvenile justice system,

  4. Ascertain the level of development of management information systems (MIS) to permit cross-system information exchange.
The survey was designed to provide information that can contribute to reducing juvenile delinquency and ensuring public safety through targeted interventions for juvenile offenders with previous histories of child maltreatment and victimization.

Methods

In March 2002, an on-line survey was distributed to approximately 1,500 Juvenile Justice Agencies in all 50 states. The survey was directed to director's of court service units, court administrators, and probation supervisors. The list of recipients was drawn from the "American Probation and Parole 2001 Directory" and various electronic mail listserves.

There were 228 respondents to the on-line survey, a response rate of 15%. Five respondents were eliminated from the analysis due to insufficient information -- missing population size and contact information. The respondents represented 42 of the 50 States. The states with the highest frequency of responses included Texas (22), Illinois (19), New York (18), and Wisconsin (16). The states with no responses were Maryland, New Jersey, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Alaska.

Figure 1
Participant Breakdown by Region


Midwest 32%
Southern 26%
Western 17%
Mid-Atlantic 11%
Mountains/Plains 11%
New England 3%

The respondents represented a wide range of jurisdiction population sizes. The smallest jurisdiction size was 1,900 while the largest jurisdiction had a population well over one million. Thirty-four percent of the respondents had a jurisdiction size less than 50,000. Twenty-two percent had a population between 50,001 to 100,000 and 44% had a jurisdiction size over 100,000.

More than half (54%) of the respondents represented juvenile courts. Eighty-five percent of the courts had an age of adult or criminal responsibility between sixteen years and eighteen years of age. For the majority of these agencies, the minimum age at which a youth could be the subject of a juvenile petition was between seven and nine (43%) or between ten and twelve (42%).

Figure 2
Responding Agency Characteristics


Population Size Frequency Percentage
         Less than 50,000 76 34%
         50,001 - 100,00 50 22%
         Greater than 100,001 97 44%
Type of Legal Jurisdiction
         Juvenile 120 54%
         Juvenile/Domestic Relations 8 4%
         Family 25 11%
         Circuit 27 12%
         Other 25 11%
         Not Documented 18 8%
Age of Criminal Responsibility
         16 - 18 years old 189 85%
         19 - 21 years old 12 5%
         Other 22 10%
Minimum Age for Juvenile Petition
         7 - 9 years old 95 43%
         10 - 12 years old 94 42%
         13 - 16 years old 6 3%
         Other 28 12%

Findings

In general, the results identified the need to increase awareness of the connection between child maltreatment and juvenile delinquency. However, the finding that approximately three-quarters (74%) of responding agencies had formalized efforts at interagency collaboration for juvenile offenders who were victims of maltreatment was encouraging. This finding was relatively stable across the three categories of population size used in the analysis.

Figure 3
Juvenile Justice Agencies That Have Policy, Procedures, or Regulations Supporting Inter-agency Collaboration with Agencies Having Custody of Youth/Victims of Maltreatment



The description of these policies, procedures, or regulations included multi-disciplinary teams, memorandums of understanding, informal agreements, mandatory reporting to the custodial agency, and dual responsibility for juvenile delinquency and child maltreatment.

Although three of four agencies had formalized interagency collaboration, only twelve percent had a program designed specifically to serve juvenile offenders identified as previous victims of child maltreatment. There was no statistical difference in the provision of these programs by jurisdictions' population size.

Figure 4
Agencies That Have Programs/Projects Designed for Juvenile Offenders Identified as Previous Victims of Maltreatment



The age of the population served by these programs or projects ranged from 10 to 17. Common program goals included:
  • ensuring safe placements
  • providing education on appropriate social skills
  • improving decision making skills
  • providing early intervention counseling
More of the agencies' programs were funded either through grants (37%) or by their counties (37%) than through shared costs (26%) or by their respective states (22%). Funding for these programs did not differ significantly by jurisdictions' population size.

For those respondents who did not have programs designed for juvenile delinquents identified as previous victims of child maltreatment, less than one-half (48%) reported that such programs should exist, while nearly one-third (31%) did not know or were unsure if their division or unit should have these programs. Nine percent stated that such programs should not exist.

Agencies in larger jurisdictions were more likely to have Management Information Systems (36%) than agencies with somewhat smaller populations (30% of the middle sized and 25% of the smallest agencies reported having an MIS).

Figure 5
Characteristics of Agencies Management Information Systems


Permits Data to be Aggregated for Children with a History of Child Maltreatment Frequency Percentage
         Yes 69 31%
         No 97 43%
         Don't Know 57 26%
Data Presented in Written Reports
         Yes 37 17%
         No 21 9%
         Don't Know 165 74%
Separate the Reported Instances from the Substantiated Cases of Child Maltreatment
         Yes 23 10%
         No 32 14%
         Don't Know 168 75%
Institutionalized Process by Which the Probation Division or Court Services Unit Could Access this Information From the Local Department of Human Services
         Yes 26 12%
         Don't Know/Not Documented 197 88%

Forty-three percent of agencies, regardless of jurisdiction size, reported that their division or unit did not have an MIS that aggregated data, while 26% did not know if their MIS could aggregate data relative to prior maltreatment. The ability to present data on history of maltreatment is limited since fewer than one in five (17%) of the responding agencies had MIS systems that permitted presenting this information in written form. Three quarters of the respondents reported that they did not know if their probation unit's or court service division's MIS could separate the reported instance from the substantiated case of child maltreatment. An even higher percentage (88%) reported not knowing if an institutionalized process existed by which the probation division or court services unit could access this information from the local department of human services, or other responsible agency.

As suggested below in Figure 6, of the 69 respondents whose agencies had an MIS, the majority did not report information relative to histories of maltreatment at the earliest stage in the record keeping process - on the arrest report. Only one in three (32%) agencies reported this information at this entry point to the juvenile justice system. In addition, history of maltreatment information is not consistently documented as the youth is processed through the system. Fewer than one-half of the agencies (45%) reported that histories of maltreatment were included on the court services report and just over one-half (54%) reported that the information is reported at the point of placement in a juvenile correction facility.

Figure 6
When Information on History of Maltreatment is recorded


Conclusions

A majority of the respondents reported that their probation division or court services unit had a policy, procedure, or regulation allowing for collaboration with agencies having custodial responsibility for youth who have been victims of child maltreatment. However, nearly nine of ten did not have a specific program or project for this population. This speaks to the need to develop an array of tools (e.g., inter-agency protocols, procedures, policies; multi-system assessment instruments; management information development; model court initiatives; and blended funding processes) for use by local and state agencies.

Additional examination and evaluation of the (twenty-seven) programs identified by this research will be necessary in order to provide the field with replicable models. Program evaluations should be conducted to determine which of these programs represent practices leading to successful (and measureable) outcomes for these juvenile offenders.


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