Harris County

New Harris County Collective to Benefit Kids in CPS And Juvenile Justice Systems

Through the new collaborative, juvenile probation officers and CPS case workers must share information and keep track of each kid in those systems.

Dieter Cantu speaks about the new Harris County Youth Collective he’ll be managing. The initiative will benefit dual-status kids.

On Monday, the newly-formed Harris County Youth Collective officially rolled out its plans to help kids who are in both the child protective and juvenile justice systems.

Dieter Cantu is project manager for the new collaborative. He knows from personal experience how kids in protective custody with a criminal background face a number of barriers that make it harder to get their lives on track.


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“I've witnessed domestic violence. I've witnessed drug abuse. I've witnessed things in my home and my neighborhood to the point where I've had to be removed from my home and sent somewhere else and eventually spent time incarcerated,” Cantu said Monday at a press conference.

Through trial and error, Cantu said he figured out his path. Now he wants to help at-risk youth find theirs through the new collective.

“I don't want people to look at me as the exception but, if anything, as the standard,” he said.

Through the new collaborative, a kid’s juvenile probation officer and CPS case worker must maintain communication to share information and keep track of each kid in these systems.

“It's really bringing everybody together so that we say ‘OK this is what we know about this child’,” said Kelly Opot, executive director of the Harris County Youth Collective.

The hope for the collective is that, by making official and overseeing inter-agency communication, it will mean fewer kids get lost in the system.

Harris County currently has 138 youth that are in both CPS and juvenile justice systems. Around 200 kids fall into that dual-status category each year in Harris County.

The Harris County Youth Collective joins people working with dual status youth to improve transitions into adulthood.