New York’s “Raise the Age” legislation presents impactful changes to youth, their families, and agencies providing services. It also places an immediate and direct burden on frontline caseworkers tasked with developing tailored, comprehensive care plans that meet the rehabilitative needs of each youth. Critical to success is these workers’ ability to quickly assess, evaluate, and share specific information to coordinate the right supports and services.
“Why we wanted to raise the age to 18 is to give young people that second chance, that opportunity to get resources and supports—certainly hold them accountable to whatever crime they may have committed, but in an age-appropriate manner.”
Allison Lake, Executive Director of the Westchester Children’s Association
Westchester Children’s Association recently hosted a panel of county and state representatives to discuss the challenges and rewards of implementing New York’s “Raise the Age” (RTA) legislation, which went into effect last October. (For those looking for more info, we’ve included several resources below.)
In a summary of the event from TheExaminerNews.com, panelists agreed the change is already having a positive impact, but there are still challenges ahead. Ensuring youth get the supports and services they need is one key challenge, especially when workers will have to adjust to an increase in cases as more youth are served through Family Court, Youth Part, or similar specialized dockets established to handle RTA-related cases.
Much of this burden will ultimately fall on frontline caseworkers who are tasked with coordinating services/providers for each individual youth.
As a result, it has become increasingly important that these workers have tools to quickly assess and evaluate specific information to develop these tailored, comprehensive care plans. Equally important, they need to be able to share this critical information with the numerous people most vital to each youth’s success.
We’re continuing to monitor how RTA—in New York and elsewhere—affects service delivery.
In the meantime, we also recommend reading Juvenile Justice Information Exchange’s article, “Our New Data on Dual System Youth Show Deep Collaboration, More Info Is Crucial,” for more insight on how child welfare and juvenile justice can work together to positively impact youth served by both systems. Here’s a key takeaway:
“When youth touch both systems, systems need to identify them consistently and reliably as early as possible. Identification relies on the availability of systematic, electronic data collection in both the child welfare and juvenile justice systems and the ability for those systems to communicate with one another. Integrated data systems or crosswalks between data systems that are protective of confidentiality are essential for this purpose.”
- Campaign website and resources: Raise the Age | NY
- Fact sheets and resources: Youth Justice / Raise the Age [Westchester Children’s Association]
- Implementation guide: Age-Appropriate Services [NY.gov]
- Article: New York Raise the Age is Making Strides Where It Counts [Juvenile Justice Information Exchange]