Crossover youth are a unique population of children involved in both the child welfare and the juvenile justice systems. Crossover youth are disproportionately likely to experience social and economic disadvantage, and the dual system involvement may fundamentally shape their adolescence and transition to adulthood. This project investigates how juvenile court institutions characterize and respond to crossover youth, how crossover youth experience their dual status as “dependent” and “delinquent,” and how crossover youths’ experiences in court influence their well-being as they proceed through adolescence. In addition to investigating the relationship between state institutions and inequality in the United States, the project will show how the state distinguishes between victims and offenders and how it interacts with the families so affected. Findings will inform state policies affecting the operation of both child welfare and juvenile justice systems.

This project will combine longitudinal interviews and ethnographic observation to examine how juvenile court institutions respond to crossover youth and how crossover youth experience the court process themselves. Data will be drawn from repeated interviews with 35 to 40 crossover youth over the course of a year, as well as ethnographic observation in juvenile court and interviews with key decision makers in both dependency and delinquency courts. Longitudinal follow-ups with crossover youth will grant insight into how young people experience the court process, and court observation will provide a unique opportunity to observe interactions between court actors and youth and compare what happens in court to how individuals describe their court experiences in interviews. Findings will inform sociological theories regarding juvenile justice and the law, as well as the sociology of childhood and transition to adulthood.

This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.

National Science Foundation (NSF)
Division of Social and Economic Sciences (SES)
Standard Grant (Standard)
Application #
Program Officer
Joseph Whitmeyer
Project Start
Project End
Budget Start
Budget End
Support Year
Fiscal Year
Total Cost
Indirect Cost
Stanford University
United States
Zip Code