Juvenile Law Center

July 26, 2017

Tips and Legal Strategies to Support Youth with Disabilities

posted by Juvenile Law Center

Youth with disabilities are significantly overrepresented in the child welfare system, and planning for their transition out of care and into a successful adulthood presents unique challenges. Juvenile Law Center produced a four-part webinar series that provides tips and legal strategies to help support child welfare-involved youth as they prepare for that transition.    

Achieving Permanency and Normalcy in the Child Welfare System
Youth in the child welfare system are entitled to have their treatment and well-being needs met and to have permanency and family.  This webinar discusses obstacles that advocates may face in securing permanency, community connections, and a normal childhood experience for youth with disabilities and surveys federal law that promotes these goals for youth who are in care.  We focus on how stakeholders can promote participation in age- and developmentally-appropriate activities among youth with disabilities, especially in a congregate care setting.  We also discuss strategies for forming permanent connections between supportive adults and youth who are too frequently labeled “unadoptable” by the child welfare system.

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Planning for a Quality Education in the Child Welfare System
Youth in the child welfare system are entitled to a public education.  However, they face unique challenges to obtaining quality schooling that all too frequently lead to poor educational outcomes. This webinar discusses federal laws that protect the educational rights of youth in care, including those that promote school stability and educational attainment.  We also discuss strategies to promote meaningful use of the IDEA’s protections as applied to youth in the child welfare system and review supports available to youth as they pursue post-secondary education and other opportunities.

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Achieving the Least Restrictive Setting in the Child Welfare System
Both federal child welfare law and disability anti-discrimination statutes require that a child who has been removed from her home be placed in the least restrictive placement that meets her needs, yet children with disabilities continue to be disproportionately placed in congregate care settings. This webinar provides participants with a better understanding of the federal requirements of the “least restrictive most family like setting” in child welfare law as well as practical information about how to make that happen for youth with disabilities in their systems. We provide an overview of alternatives to institutional care, including advocacy strategies for promoting family-based placements.

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Navigating Adult-Serving Systems after the Child Welfare System
Many youth in the child welfare system do not have a safety net of family support when they exit care and thus struggle to achieve independence. While most states are both extending dependency jurisdiction and improving transition services for older youth, many young adults leave the system still needing supports and advocacy in order to successfully transition. This webinar focuses on meeting the needs of former foster youth with disabilities after the exit from the child welfare system. We provide an overview of the major service systems, describe the legal mechanisms to advocate for better access to the systems, and discuss strategies to improve connections between the child- and adult-serving systems.

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This webinar series was made possible with the generous support of the National Disability Rights Network.

Tags:Access to Education|Access to Healthcare|Child Welfare and Foster Care|Extended Care and Reentry (Foster Care)|Fostering Connections|Normalcy for Foster Youth|Older Youth with Disabilities|Permanency (Foster Care)|Transitions to Adulthood (Foster Care)

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