Caring for Kids in Their Communities, Not in the Justice System

Any serious childhood illness can disrupt a child’s life. When it’s a mental illness, a child’s symptoms can leave a child behind bars. Compared to children with other disabilities, youth with serious mental disorders are more than twice as likely to end up living in correctional facilities, halfway houses, or drug treatment centers, or to be homeless. While our juvenile justice system seeks to address the mental health needs of the children it serves, many of the children who find themselves justice-involved should never have entered the system in the first place. Keeping children in their communities and addressing their mental health needs appropriately has the potential for preventing a slew of negative consequences, while also putting children challenged by mental illness on a path to lifelong success.

To read and download the full policy brief click here.