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Officials Launch System Improvements to Help At-risk Youth

Lane County

Lane County is one of thirteen jurisdictions across the nation chosen to implement a new juvenile justice program model. It’s designed to reduce the number of youth who “crossover” between child welfare and the juvenile justice system.

“At any time we have between 400 and 500 youth somewhere in our system.”

That’s John Aarons. He’s been working with Lane County Youth Services for nearly 30 years. In his view, the newly launched Crossover Youth Practice Model will help formalize an important partnership.

Aarons: “Youth Services goal is to create safer communities through crime free youth. Department of Health and Human Services Child Welfare is working at keeping kids and families safe and this provides us the opportunity to bring the best of both worlds.”

Aarons says it’s a chance to work with the entire family of a juvenile offender. And, to have *one judge hear a case for its entire length.

Program research finds “crossover youth” have often experienced abuse or neglect. Al Levine is Youth Services Division Manager. He says there’s another factor.

Credit Lane County

Levine: “Minorities are disproportionately coming into the juvenile and adult justice systems. They’re also disproportionately coming into the child welfare systems.”

Implementing the Crossover Youth program will not cost communities, says Levine. Over the next year, model developers from Georgetown University will provide technical support. Then, he says, they’re on their own.  

Tiffany joined the KLCC News team in 2007. She studied journalism at the University of Missouri-Columbia and has worked in a variety of media including television and daily print news. For KLCC, Tiffany reports on health care, social justice and local/regional news. She has won awards from Oregon Associated Press, PRNDI, and Education Writers Association.