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

Addressing the Unmet Educational Needs of Children and Youth in the Juvenile Justice and Child Welfare Systems
May 14, 2010 Stuart Foundation

Georgetown Public Policy Institute’s Center for Juvenile Justice Reform has just released a paper titled “Addressing the Unmet Educational Needs of Children and Youth in the Juvenile Justice and Child Welfare Systems”.  The paper discusses the poor educational outcomes many child welfare and juvenile justice involved youth face.
The paper is co-authored by Lois Weinberg, professor at the Charter College of Education at California State University, Los Angeles, and Peter Leone from the Department of Special Education at the University of Maryland, College Park. After presenting the educational barriers and poor outcomes the children face, the paper describes recent legal and policy reforms that have shaped education policy for this population of youth, as well as litigation that has been brought against jurisdictions not providing adequate education services to youth in their care. Additionally, several promising practices are discussed, such as the use of educational liaisons. Liaisons work across systems to help youth stay connected to school despite their high mobility between schools and placements. Evidence based educational interventions, such as preschool and literacy programs, are also presented as practices that should be provided by systems to improve educational outcomes of youth in their care. Reflecting on the importance of this issue, David Osher, vice president of the American Institutes for Research said, “the liability for educating children and youth involved in the child welfare and/or juvenile justice systems is the charge of everyone responsible for the well-being of the youngster. Ultimately, the academic achievement of our youth is dependent upon effective systems that collaborate and view themselves individually and collectively accountable for developing the academic, social and emotional competencies of every young person.” The paper was made possible through support from the American Institutes for Research, the Jim Casey Youth Opportunities Initiative, the National Evaluation and Technical Assistance Center for the Education of Children and Youth Who Are Neglected, Delinquent, or At Risk (NDTAC) and the Robert F. Kennedy Juvenile Justice Collaborative: A Project of the RFK Center for Justice and Human Rights and the RFK Children’s Action Corps.