Youth with disabilities are over-represented in the child welfare and justice systems.1 Once they enter these systems, they face worse outcomes than their non-disabled peers.2 The special needs of youth with disabilities are neither timely identified nor adequately addressed, especially in the group and institutional settings in which these children are disproportionately placed. These settings provide poor transition and permanency planning for these youth. Additionally, there are few systems in place to plan for specialized services and support after these youth leave state care. “In short, too many children with disabilities get into care, too few get out, and too often they’re in the wrong place while there.”3
Transitioning to adulthood is challenging for all teenagers; youth with disabilities face additional barriers to a successful transition. These young adults often lose a place to live, health care, education, and connections with family. As adults, they must navigate new and complex systems that operate under different rules. Health care coverage and other entitlements are more limited and the available adult services often have long waiting lists.
To improve outcomes for these youth, Juvenile Law Center promotes policies that ensure that youth with disabilities:
1 Youths with Disabilities in the Juvenile Justice System (National Disabilities Rights Network September 2007), http://www.ndrn.org/images/Documents/Issues/Juvenile_Justice/NDRN_JDAI_handout_prevalence_92607.pdf
2 Forgotten Children: A Case for Action for Children and Youth with Disabilities in Foster Care 5 (Children’s Rights & United Cerebral Palsy 2006) (summarizing the research), http://www.childrensrights.org/policy-projects/foster-care/children-with-disabilities-in-foster-care/
3 Nancy Rosenau, Supporting Family Life for Children with Disabilities: What We Know and Don't Know in Gaylord, V., LaLiberte, T., Lightfoot, E. & Hewitt, A. (Eds.). (2006). Impact: Feature Issue on Children with Disabilities in the Child Welfare System 19(1), http://ici.umn.edu/products/impact/191/default.html
Last updated: 2/10/2015
35–50% of children entering foster care have significant emotional and behavioral health problems.
20–60 percent of young children entering foster care have a developmental disability or delay.
25% of children entering foster care have three or more chronic health conditions.
|One of the most important lessons from our 40 years of experience is that children involved with the justice and foster care systems need zealous legal advocates. Your support for our work is more important now than ever before.||Support|