The struggle to treat kids at a juvenile justice facility

Alisa Roth, Heard On: Marketplace •
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The number of kids in the juvenile justice system nationwide has dropped significantly over the last two decades, from more than 100,000 in the year 2000 to around 35,000. But states are finding it challenging — and expensive — to get housing and mental healthcare for the kids who remain in the system.  

Like kids in the Lincoln Hills and Copper Lake schools, as they are known, that share a campus in a remote part of Wisconsin, about three-and-a-half hours north of Milwaukee.

The people held there are juveniles; their average age is 16 and some are as young as 14.

They’ve been sentenced to the facilities by a judge to live, go to school and receive mental health care all in one place. And while there are fewer kids now than a few years ago, extreme racial disparities remain; the majority of the kids are Black, though Native American kids are also over-represented.

These are children with high needs: Just about all of them have experienced trauma. A lot of them have been diagnosed with things like anxiety, depression and ADHD. They have trouble controlling their impulses, and it’s challenging to provide for all those needs.

Read the full story and hear from Juvenile Law Center Senior Attorney, Kate Burdick, on

About the Expert

Kate Burdick is a Senior Attorney at Juvenile Law Center with over a decade of experience advocating for youth in the justice and child welfare systems. She first started at Juvenile in 2009 as the eighth Sol and Helen Zubrow Fellow in Children's Law, then later served as an Equal Justice Works Fellow (sponsored by Greenberg Traurig, LLP) and Staff Attorney. Between fellowships, she served as a law clerk to the Honorable Michael M. Baylson of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.