In California, the state centrally administers child welfare services through the Department of Social Services, Children and Family Services Division (DCFS), and there is a statewide database, the Child Welfare Services / Case Management System (CWS/CMS) for maintaining information on youth served by the Department. Alternatively, each county in California is responsible for its own juvenile probation services. Probation officers have access to the CWS / CMS to enter information, but their use of the system varies across counties. While dependency and delinquency court data are integrated in some counties, this is not the case in all counties.
Although there is no statewide process or protocol for sharing information between child welfare and juvenile justice, there are three state-level committees that are focused on topics related to dual status youth: the SIT, the Integration Task Force, and the Child Welfare Council. There is state policy that necessitates a joint assessment hearing, called a 241.1 hearing, when a child appears to fit the description of both a delinquent and a dependent. Also, Assembly Bill 129, passed by the Legislature in 2004, allows California counties to choose to develop a local dual-jurisdiction protocol to designate certain children as having dual status. Some counties have specialized protocols for identifying and serving dual status youth.
Many counties in California are engaged in efforts to address youth who are involved in multiple systems. Santa Clara County is a Robert F. Kennedy Children's Action Corps dual status model site. Los Angeles and San Diego counties implement the Crossover Youth Practice Model. In Los Angeles, there is a formal inter-agency agreement between juvenile justice, child welfare, mental health, and education that supports a multidisciplinary team process for assessment, information sharing, and case planning. Caseworkers and probation officers have the ability to check the Juvenile Automated Index for prior system involvement. When probation officers identify that there is also DCFS involvement, it is noted in the Probation Case Management System and noted in the Detention Report that goes directly to the court. Placer County has a coordinated system of care, System Management and Resources Team (SMART), where probation officers, social workers, and nurses are housed in the same offices to encourage information sharing and case collaboration. This system of care is supported by a formal memorandum of understanding between Placer County Probation, the Department of Health and Human Services, the Superior Court, and the Office of Education. Bi-weekly meetings occur between the judge and representatives from probation, education, human services, mental health, and human services. Dual status cases are identified at intake through cross-checking the data systems, and child welfare and delinquency systems collaborate to assess the needs of the youth and family and bring a joint recommendation on the level and type of agency involvement. Cases may be staffed using an 'On-Hold Model,' the Concurrent Service and Case Plan Model,' or a variation. Cases are planned and supervised according to a Unified Service Plan. In case of co-occurring jurisdiction, efforts are made to consolidate cases under one judge, to use dedicated dockets, and to apply a single attorney model.
Visit the California Courts, Dual Status Youth Resources page and Assembly Bill 129 for more information.
San Diego County efforts to coordinate dual status youth data and case management at intake are profiled in more detail in the JJGPS CaseStudy: When Systems Collaborate: How Three Jurisdictions Improved their Handling of Dual-Status Cases.