Child Requiring Assistance Filings Data Trends

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Annual number of CRA filings in Massachusetts since fiscal year 2017. CRA filings in Massachusetts have declined each year, from 5,388 in fiscal year 2017 to 2,912 in fiscal year 2021. (Data collected by the OCA from the Trial Court's public data dashboard on January 11, 2022. Download this data)

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A parent/guardian, school official and (in limited cases) police officer can file an application for assistance with the Juvenile Court for support related to certain youth behaviors. Applications are for "Child Requiring Assistance" (CRA) court cases, which are categorized as a civil proceeding (compared to delinquency proceedings in juvenile court).

A "child requiring assistance'' is a child between the ages of 6 and 18 who:

  • repeatedly runs away from the home of the child's parent, legal guardian or custodian;
  • repeatedly fails to obey the lawful and reasonable commands of the child's parent, legal guardian or custodian, thereby interfering with their ability to adequately care for and protect the child;
  • repeatedly fails to obey the lawful and reasonable regulations of the child's school;
  • is habitually truant by willfully not attending school for more than 8 days a quarter; or
  • is sexually exploited.

Behaviors that can trigger a CRA application in Massachusetts are sometimes referred to as "status offenses" in other states due to the youth's "status as a minor." Youth with CRA applications only (i.e., no other delinquency charges) cannot be handcuffed or placed in lock-up or detention.

Youth with an accepted CRA application (called a "filing") are supervised by Probation and report to the Juvenile Court. The court can also grant the Department of Children and Families (DCF) temporary custody of the youth. 

Child Requiring Assistance Filings: Demographic and Geographic Breakdowns

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Estimated percentages for the race of all Massachusetts youth, ages 6 to 17, in 2020 (Source: EZAPOPDownload this Data.)

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The visualization below shows the number of CRA filings over time. From the drop down menu, you can select a demographic variable (race/ethnicity, gender, or age) of interest and see the breakdown of that variable in youth CRA filings over time. 

You can also look at data by the total number of CRA filings in a given category, or the percent change in filings in that category year over year.

As a point of comparison, this page also includes a visualization showing the racial distribution for all Massachusetts youth (not just those in the CRA system) based on U.S. Census data. 

 

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Statewide CRA filings are shown by race, gender, and age group for each fiscal year since 2017. Data submitted to the OCA for FY17 included just three race categories. (Data collected by the OCA from the Trial Court's public data dashboard on January 11, 2022.)

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Below, select a county to see how many CRA applications were filed that year or the change in filings from the prior year. You can also select to view the number of CRAs filed in each court county per 10,000 youth (ages 6-17) in that county. To change the year, select the option from the drop-down menu. 

 

 

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A heat map shows annual CRA filings by county. The Massachusetts Juvenile Court consists of 11 divisions across the state, combining Franklin and Hampshire counties, and Barnstable, Dukes and Nantucket counties along with the town of Plymouth. (Data collected by the OCA from the Trial Court's public data dashboard on January 11, 2022. Download data here.)

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Child Requiring Assistance Filings: Petition Types

There are five types of CRA cases (called "petition types") in Massachusetts based on why a CRA application was filed: 1) Stubborn petitions 2) Truancy petitions 3) Habitual School Offender petitions 4) Runaway petitions 5) Sexually Exploited petitions.

The visualizations below show what types of petition were filed, and how that has changed over time. You can also look at data by either the total number of CRA filings in a given category or the percent change in that category year over year.

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Statewide CRA filings are shown by petition type for each fiscal year since 2017. Petition types include: stubborn, runaway, truant, habitual school offender, and sexually exploited. (Data collected by the OCA from the Trial Court's public data dashboard on January 11, 2022. Download data here.)

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About the Data

Data Obtained From: 

The OCA collected the data presented on this page from the Trial Court's public data dashboard. Data for CRA filings in FY17 was provided to the OCA . FY18 data is no longer available on the Trial Court's tableau, and was pulled by the OCA as of January 11, 2022. 

Definitions:

Child Requiring Assistance: is a child between the ages of 6 and 18 who (1) repeatedly runs away from the home of the child's parent, legal guardian or custodian ("runaway"); (2) repeatedly fails to obey the lawful and reasonable commands of the child's parent, legal guardian or custodian, thereby interfering with their ability to adequately care for and protect the child ("stubborn"); repeatedly fails to obey the lawful and reasonable regulations of the child's school ("habitual school offender"); is habitually truant by willfully not attending school for more than 8 days a quarter ("truancy"); or is sexually exploited ("sexually exploited").

Custody: the right to make decisions about where a minor child will live, go to school, get medical treatment, and other important choices about care.

Habitual School Offender Petition: a type of CRA petition that can be filed for a child who repeatedly fails to obey the lawful and reasonable regulations of the child's school.

Runaway Petition: a type of CRA petition that can be filed for a child who repeatedly runs away from the home of the child's parent, legal guardian or custodian.

Sexual Exploitation Petition: a type of CRA petition that can be filed for a child who is sexually exploited.

Stubborn Petition: a type of CRA petition that can be filed for a child who repeatedly fails to obey the lawful and reasonable commands of the child's parent, legal guardian or custodian, thereby interfering with their ability to adequately care for and protect the child.

Truancy Petition: a type of CRA petition that can be filed for a child who is habitually truant by willfully not attending school for more than 8 days a quarter.
 

Definitions for juvenile justice terms adapted from "Kids and the Law: A User's Guide to the Juvenile Court" 4th ed. by Rebecca Pries, LMHC and Carol Rosensweig, Esq. Click here for an electronic copy and more information.

For more information on CRA Filings, visit the Court's website.

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