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May 2017Vol. 18, No. 3Improving Outcomes for Youth With Disabilities in Juvenile Corrections Facilities

There are currently more than 60,000 youth in juvenile correctional facilities, with a large portion of these youth being identified as having a disability. Despite these statistics, however, less than half of those youth report that they are receiving special education services while incarcerated.

The toolkit, Improving Outcomes for Youth With Disabilities in Juvenile Corrections includes evidence- and research-based practices, tools, and resources that families, educators, facilities, communities, and agencies can use to better support and improve the long-term outcomes for youth with disabilities in juvenile correctional facilities. This resource is part of the IDEAS That Work initiative of the Office of Special Education Programs within the U.S. Department of Education. Given the number of children and youth who are involved in both the child welfare and juvenile justice systems, this toolkit may be of interest to child welfare professionals.

This toolkit is divided into four sections:

  • Facility-wide practices include a continuum of academic and behavioral supports and services, trauma-informed care, and restorative justice. They are aimed at ensuring a focus on prevention and consistent reinforcement of expectations across facility environments.
  • Educational practices include ensuring access to a high-quality education, individualized instruction, and compliance with the Individuals With Disabilities Education Act. They are organized into a tiered delivery system that can assist in meeting the varied educational levels and needs of incarcerated youth with disabilities.
  • Transition and reentry practices include beginning transition planning at entry, prioritizing family involvement, and coordinating after-care services. These practices are aimed at ensuring youth with disabilities are able to exit correctional facilities ready to return to school, community, or employment settings.
  • Community and interagency practices include interagency agreements, expeditious records transfer, and staffing. They focus on how services for these youth should be coordinated across a variety of partners, such as schools, community agencies, and probation programs.

To learn more about the toolkit, Improving Outcomes for Youth With Disabilities in Juvenile Corrections, visit