Addressing the Unmet Educational Needs of Children and Youth in the Juvenile Justice and Child Welfare Systems

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Center for Juvenile Justice Reform, Georgetown Public Policy Institute

Youths who go through both the child welfare and juvenile justice systems often leave school without the skills necessary for success in the 21st century, according to this report from the Center for Juvenile Justice Reform.  The authors contend that working across child welfare and juvenile justice systems to determine what is being done to meet the educational needs of these students will be more effective in the delivery of youth services.  

The authors recognize that these youths often have experienced a variety of risk factors such as adverse childhood experiences, poverty, emotional and behavioral disorders, learning disabilities and substance abuse that are associated with poor academic achievement, delinquency, recidivism, substance abuse and mental health issues. When combined, these risk factors prove to be harmful to youths, especially when they go from being state wards in child welfare to being incarcerated in the juvenile justice system without their problems being addressed, according to the report.

It identifies principles that should drive education reform for these youths, beginning with a sound early education and continuing with high-quality educational opportunities in both the child welfare and juvenile justice systems. The report also states that interagency collaboration is vital to improving outcomes for these youths.

The report explores educational and other outcomes of youth in both the juvenile justice and child welfare systems, barriers to improving education performance, recent legal and policy reforms, evidence-based interventions, emerging options and alternatives in considering both systems and how to put the aforementioned principles into practice.

Free, 74 pages.