Who are “Cross-Over Youth”?


Youth involved with a child welfare agency and also involved in the youth justice system are often referred to as “cross over youth.”  The estimates are that between 40 and 50 percent of incarcerated youth are from the child welfare system.  These youth often get their first charge while in residential care. They are a particularly vulnerable population who face unique challenges during their interactions with the youth justice system, and are more likely to be detained pending resolution of their charges and to be sentenced to custody than are youth not involved with a child welfare agency.  These youth are not always supported while in detention, at bail hearings or before the court.

What is the Cross-Over Youth Project?

The Cross-Over Youth Project, a four-year pilot project initiated as a community-based response to bring about systemic changes in four unique communities in Ontario on behalf of cross over youth.

The Project will have sites in four locations:

The Project will spend time in each site helping to coordinate the community response to the needs of cross-over youth and helping to develop a local, sustainable model. The project will develop a best practice model based on its involvement in four very different communities.

The Project is staffed by:

  • Project Director (lawyer)
  • Youth Coordinator
  • Resource Coordinator (lawyer)
  • Case Conference Facilitator (social worker)
  • Thunder Bay Resource Coordinator/Case Conference Facilitator
  • Part time Administrative Assistant

The Project will be supported by:

  • Co-Chairs -Ryerson Professor/ Principal Investigator and the Judicial Lead
  • Project C– Our Youth-Led Committee
  • Local committees and youth committees in each site


What does the Cross-Over Project do?

  • Case by Case support to assist those supporting individual youth
  • Systemic Work to influence and support change at all levels

As it moves into service delivery, the components of the Cross-Over Youth Project include: (a) Intersectoral Training and Partnership Development; Panel Presentations; Education Modules; (b) Systemic Capacity Building and Case Conference Facilitation; (c) Youth Mentorship; and (d) Evaluation.

We identified 25 points of intersection between the child welfare and youth justice systems. We provide situation specific interventions at these intersection points. We act a resource for individuals or sectors supporting cross-over youth by:

  • Problem solving and troubleshooting
  • Helping to marshal and coordinate resources
  • Providing advice in all areas of children’s law and on the intersection of the child welfare and youth justice system
  • Ensuring meaningful cross-sectoral partnerships and information sharing

Some of our specific initiatives are:

  • Leading or coordinating restorative sessions in group care to avoid use of the justice system
  • Enhancing pre-and post- charge diversion
  • Facilitating court and community based conferencing
  • Coordinating the use of two hatter judges and counsel
  • Coordinating child welfare attendance and involvement in  youth justice processes
  • Facilitating the development of meaningful bail conditions
  • Facilitating or providing youth mentorship

For more Information:

Contact the Cross-Over Project team.