On Wednesday, October 30, Congressman David Schweikert (R-AZ) and Congresswoman Linda Sanchez (D-CA) introduced bipartisan and bicameral legislation, the Childhood Outcomes Need New Efficient Community Teams or CONNECT Act, H.R. 4911. This legislation would provide competitive grants that would enhance the collaboration between both the child welfare and the juvenile justice system to collaborate on efforts to mitigate the barriers that youth involved in both systems face. Earlier this Congress, Senator Gary Peters (D-MI) and Senator Charles Grassley (R-IA) introduced the Senate version.

“Too many kids who are in both the child welfare and juvenile justice systems are falling through the cracks,” stated Congresswoman Sanchez. The passage of two important pieces of legislation, the Family First Prevention Services Act and the Juvenile Justice Delinquency and Prevention Act, both critical to providing the services and supports for the targeted population of youth requires more accountability and collaboration between both systems.

The CONNECT Act would “Ensure that we are helping children in the foster system receive the tools they need to succeed by removing systematic barriers between the child welfare and juvenile justice systems,” stated Congressman Schweikert. Reducing and eliminating barriers in identifying and serving youth is important and efforts like these help states and local jurisdictions develop best practices and work in the best interest of all children and youth.

CWLA, along with the Robert F. Kennedy National Resource Center on Juvenile Justice, Boys Town, Michigan Council on Crime and Delinquency, Coalition for Juvenile Justice, Bethany Christian Services, and the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court supports this bicameral, bipartisan bill.