An Examination of Racism and Racial Discrimination Impacting Dual Status Youth


Racial disproportionality and disparity have long been characteristic of both the child welfare and youth justice systems. Discriminatory policies and practices present at the origin of these systems continue to plague children, families, and communities. The impact of racism upon dual status youth—children who encounter both the child welfare and youth justice systems—is particularly concerning. Dual status youth tend to experience worse outcomes in a number of domains than youth involved in only one system. Dual status youth are also disproportionately Black — significantly more so than in any single system. Efforts to reform the youth justice system in recent years have included initiatives to improve outcomes for dual status youth and to interrupt the trajectory of dual system involvement—primarily the movement of youth from the child welfare system into the youth justice system. Other initiatives have sought to reduce or eliminate the racial disproportionality and disparities within both the child welfare and youth justice systems. This article suggests that each of these reform efforts must inform one another, and to make progress, both systems must acknowledge their shared history of racial discrimination and commit to transformative solutions.


child welfare; justice; racial discrimination; youth

Document Type