New Dual Status Reform Strengthens Hope for At-Risk Youth

by Placerville Newswire / May 19, 2016 / comments

(Image: Individuals are regrouped after some physical activities inside of Juvenile Hall, Placerville. Their faces and names have been withheld due to privacy and protection restrictions.)

[Dina Gentry] Multiple El Dorado County Agencies, led by the County Probation Department, are taking a collaborative systems approach and launching a Dual Status Youth Reform program that enhances support for those who have been part of both juvenile justice and child welfare systems. The work is supported by a technical assistance grant provided by the Robert F. Kennedy National Resource Center. Chief Probation Officer Brian Richart explained, “It’s an unfortunate situation when any child must encounter either system. Research clearly shows however that children who experience both systems at any given point in their lives have far worse rates of success in almost every measurable way. For that reason, we must focus efforts on changing their trajectory through our systems.”

Partnering agencies in this effort include El Dorado County Departments of Probation, Child Welfare, Mental Health, District Attorney, Public Defender, and County Counsel, as well as the El Dorado County Superior Court, Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA), Attorneys representing youth, and the El Dorado County Office of Education (EDCOE). El Dorado County Superintendent of Schools Ed Manansala, Ed.D. noted, “The work accomplished through this partnership will help strengthen existing support systems for some of our most vulnerable and at-risk students.”

The challenges and costs associated with dual status youth strongly suggest the need to devise and implement innovative ways to manage these difficult cases. The outcomes that children face can include poor health and welfare indicators, imprisonment, pregnancy, and even death. Prevention of the circumstances is key, so six months of planning and development have been invested to foster program success. Once implemented, agencies will work hand-in-hand through a variety of investigations and provide more comprehensive information to the greater practice of probation. This work will be completed under the authority of the court, and protocols and procedures will be outlined in an agreed-upon memorandum of understanding.  

“Our goal is always to have them move forward and exit the system as soon as possible. Therefore, the program also strongly focusses on the family and a well-rounded treatment mentality. This is not a program or an initiative but a change in thinking and a paradigm shift in our systems, mandating a team approach rather than a solo effort,” Richart added.

The Robert F. Kennedy National Resource Center for Juvenile Justice, led by the Robert F. Kennedy Children’s Action Corps, provides guidance for state and local jurisdictions in their endeavor to improve the outcomes for dual status youth and families. For more information about the Dual Status Youth Program, visit http://rfknrcjj.org/our-work/dual-status-youth-reform/