Children who have a history of involvement in child protection services (CPS) are over-represented in the youth and adult criminal justice systems. There are significant health and socioeconomic implications for individuals involved in either or both CPS and the justice system. Understanding the 'overlap' between these two systems would provide insight into the health and social needs of this population. This protocol describes a research programme on the relationship between the child welfare and the youth justice systems, looking specifically at the population involved in both CPS and the youth justice system. We will examine the characteristics associated with involvement in these systems, justice system trajectories of individuals with a history of CPS involvement and early adult outcomes of children involved in both systems.
Administrative data sets will be linked at the individual level for three cohorts born 1991, 1994 and 1998 in Manitoba, Canada. Involvement in CPS will be categorised as 'placed in out-of-home care', 'received in-home services, but was not placed in care' or 'no involvement'. Involvement in the youth justice system will be examined through contacts with police between ages 12 and 17 that either led to charges or did not proceed. Individual, maternal and neighbourhood characteristics will be examined to identify individuals at greatest risk of involvement in one or both systems.
The study was approved by the University of Manitoba Health Research Ethics Board and permission to access data sets has been granted by all data providers. We also received approval for the study from the First Nations Health and Social Secretariat of Manitoba's Health Information Research Governance Committee and the Manitoba Metis Federation. Strategies to disseminate study results will include engagement of stakeholders and policymakers through meetings and workshops, scientific publications and presentations, and social media.