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

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May 2010, second edition released in 2012

Dr. Peter Leone and Dr. Lois Weinberg

With a Preface by: David Osher, Simon Gonsoulin and Stephanie Lampron




A good education is the foundation for successful life experiences. Children who receive quality education services, meet age-appropriate education milestones, and earn high school and post-secondary school diplomas have significantly brighter outcomes as adults. In addition to providing an avenue for employment, there is broad agreement that education opens doors and provides opportunities to enrich our lives.

Two groups of children, who frequently have complex educational needs, are less likely to receive adequate education services than their peers. Youth involved with the juvenile delinquency system and those in the foster care system face barriers to receiving the education services to which they are entitled. As a consequence, they are less likely to achieve education milestones, earn diplomas, and experience the health and wellbeing benefits associated with higher income and stable employment as adults. For crossover youth known to both child welfare and juvenile justice, the challenges are even greater.

This paper outlines potential strategies, programs and resources that will enable political and agency leaders, policymakers, and practitioners to act collaboratively across systems to effectively improve the educational outcomes for youth known to multiple systems of care.

A second edition of this paper was released in 2012. This edition of the paper include references to guides that the National Evaluation and Technical Assistance Center for the Education of Children and Youth Who Are Neglected, Delinquent, or At-Risk (NDTAC), which is housed at the American Institutes for Research, has developed to elaborate upon the principles this paper presents. Since the time this paper was originally released, two guides have been published:

This paper was originally released at a symposium on May 7, 2010 in Washington, DC. Click here for more information about that event.

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