Red Rover, Red Rover, Our Youth Are Crossover

Judge AdamKaren Adam
Commissioner, Pima County Juvenile Court
Co-Lead Judge, Tucson Model Court
Member, NCJFCJ Board of Trustees

Summary: In Pima County, the crossover effort has evolved into a sophisticated and nuanced system for ensuring the best possible results for children and families.


Pima County Juvenile Court has been a one-family, one-judge system for over 20 years, long before the crossover movement began. Then, youth involved in both the delinquency and dependency systems were known as dually adjudicated or dually involved. The term crossover more accurately and appropriately describes how our system now responds to these children and their families.

Twenty years ago, the crossover effort was all about conserving resources and not duplicating services. It has evolved into a sophisticated and nuanced system for ensuring the best possible results for children and families. We’ve recently added family law cases to the mix: one judge now handles all delinquency, dependency, domestic violence and family law matters involving the same youth. Judicial oversight of all aspects of a child’s legal involvement helps ensure that their needs are identified and the appropriate services implemented.

The crossover approach is not limited to the judiciary. Crossover youth are identified early in the process, and are tracked throughout. When a delinquency petition is filed, the evaluating probation officer determines whether there is an open dependency case. If there is, all parties and counsel in the dependency action are included in communications and meetings. A representative from child protective services participates in probation placement committee staffings when dispositional alternatives are discussed. A similar process occurs with dependency cases. And now that family law cases are included in our crossover approach, both probation officers and child protective services caseworkers inquire about prior or pending family law matters, including domestic violence orders of protection. They also do public records searches to verify whether there are related cases involving the child or the family.

The collaborative, crossover approach involves many others at the court. The dependency mediators regularly teach conflict resolution techniques to youth in detention. The educational consultant is available to assist both caseworkers and probation officers. A liaison from the regional behavioral health network is housed at the court but consults on both delinquency and dependency cases. The model dependency and model delinquency workgroups both comprise members who work in all areas of juvenile and family law.

It is easier for this court to apply a crossover approach to youth because all juvenile matters are handled in the same courthouse. Further, unlike courts in which judges are assigned to either delinquency or dependency caseloads, Pima County juvenile judges preside over all types of cases, a case management approach which promotes continuity and consistency. Managing cases this way is no small task, considering that the population of the county exceeds one million people, nearly one fourth of whom are under age 18. In spite of the numbers, we’ve worked hard to provide comprehensive and efficient services to crossover youth. In Pima County as in counties across the country, with demands for services increasing and resources decreasing, the crossover approach makes sense now more than ever.


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