OYA Completes Feeder System Research Project

The project will help inform efforts to identify earlier the youth who are at risk of future criminal and juvenile justice system involvement.

This month, the Oregon Youth Authority substantially completed our work on the “Feeder System” project. Our final reports are now available on OYA’s public website.

What’s the Feeder System Project?

This is a significant research study that is part of OYA’s Youth Reformation System (YRS) initiative. This project sought to determine whether youths’ involvement with multiple state agencies is a predictor of their involvement with the criminal and juvenile justice systems.

The findings of this project will help inform efforts to:

  • identify earlier the youth who are at risk of future criminal and juvenile justice involvement, and
  • provide these youth with prevention and intervention programs.

As with all our YRS projects, we’re not trying to replace professionals’ judgement. Instead, this information is meant to provide another tool to help inform their decisions that could positively change trajectories of youth.

How Did This Project Work?

We’ve been working with 14 years of administrative records from multiple state agencies. The Department of Human Services’ Integrated Client Services department used a matching process to link records from all programs for every individual.

The data came from these agencies:

  • Department of Human Services
  • Oregon Health Authority
  • Oregon Department of Education
  • County juvenile departments
  • Oregon Youth Authority
  • Oregon Department of Corrections

With this data, we sought to answer the following questions:

  1. How many youth involved in the criminal and juvenile justice systems had prior contact with other state agencies and services, such as child welfare or mental health?
  2. Can these prior contacts with other state agencies predict their future criminal or juvenile justice involvement?

What Did We Learn?

You can read our full reports on OYA’s website. Takeaways include:

  • A large majority of youth and young adults involved in the criminal and juvenile justice systems had at least one prior contact with the participating state service agencies. Many had contact with several agencies. These contacts present opportunities for intervention.
  • Youth demographics and agency contacts were fairly accurate predictors of future criminal or juvenile justice involvement. This shows that it is possible to identify high-risk youth for targeted prevention and intervention efforts.

OYA is Done, But the Work Will Continue

The release of these reports means that our Feeder System research study is done.

However, Oregon Health & Science University’s Center for Evidence-Based Policy plans to continue doing similar work. We look forward to supporting their efforts.

Thank You for Your Support

We appreciate the assistance and support of everyone connected with this project. We are thankful to the late Senator Jackie Winters, the legislative sponsor of the project, who helped OYA realign our budget to create the research staffing resources to make the project happen.

We also want to give a shout out to OYA research analyst Kristi Racer and former OYA research analyst Margaret Braun (now at Oregon Health Authority) for all their hard work that made this project possible.

We hope that these Feeder System reports will help guide future conversations around how to improve early identification and prevention efforts for at-risk youth in Oregon.

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