Family Involvement

Family taking a walk and laughing


Promoting family involvement of youth with disabilities in juvenile corrections is critical to improving educational outcomes, providing successful transition and reentry into homes and communities, and decreasing recidivism. Under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), parents and families of youth with disabilities have the right to participate in decision-making processes for their youth, including families of youth with disabilities in correctional facilities. Families have information about a youth’s strengths and needs that can support correctional personnel with determining the individualized educational, social-behavioral, mental health, and related services that can be put in place to promote youth success. Families also can help expedite records transfers between schools, correctional facilities, and other agencies to ensure that services are provided in a timely and meaningful way. The following are resources specific for family members of youth with disabilities in correctional facilities, as well as resources for correctional facility administrators and providers to support their efforts to involve families.


Increasing Family Understanding of IDEA Requirements

  • This webpage features a long list of browsable topics on IDEA, each with associated topic briefs, training materials, dialogue guides, presentations, and (where applicable) multimedia resources. Topics include discipline, procedural safeguards, and secondary transition; links to other related materials also are included.

  • This organization is a central resource of information and products for the community of Parent Training and Information (PTI) Centers and the Community Parent Resource Centers (CPRCs), so that they can focus their efforts on serving families of children with disabilities. On this webpage, families can locate their State’s Parent Centers to gain access to individuals with knowledge of IDEA and specific State-level resources.

  • The National Center on Dispute Resolution in Special Education (CADRE) developed this list of resources to help families understand and navigate the complex channels for advocating for children and youth with disabilities. Many of these resources may be applied to help prevent or address circumstances related to youth with disabilities who are involved with corrections and the juvenile justice system.

  • The PACER Center’s Juvenile Justice Project serves parents and professionals in Minnesota through individual advocacy, training, and the ongoing development of new resources. This webpage includes links to a variety of resources that parents in all States may find useful.

  • This booklet can help parents become full, participating members of their child’s individualized education program (IEP) team. It details the rights and responsibilities afforded to youth with disabilities and their families under IDEA and provides easy-to-understand guidance about the ways that families can engage with the IEP process under this law to ensure that the academic and behavioral needs of a youth with disabilities are met.

  • This information brief describes specific activities required under IDEA related to parent participation. It includes links to several additional resources on the topics.

Involving and Engaging Families of Youth With Disabilities in Correctional Facilities

  • This web resource from the National Alliance for Secondary Education and Transition provides guidance for engaging families in a variety of educational settings, including detention facilities. It includes standards and indicators as well as supporting evidence and research on best practices to involve families in a youth’s development.

  • This brief guide provides information to help parents of youth with disabilities who are involved with the corrections system. In particular, it advocates for communicating about a youth’s disability as soon and as frequently as possible and supporting the youth’s legal rights throughout the process.

  • This issue brief, developed by the National Evaluation and Technical Assistance Center for Youth Who Are Neglected, Delinquent, or At-Risk (NDTAC), describes how correctional facilities can engage parents and families in the process of improving outcomes for all youth served in these settings.

  • This article discusses how parents of youth with emotional or behavioral disorders can become more involved in the process when their child is referred to juvenile court, thereby decreasing the likelihood of recidivism. It includes strategies for advocating for a youth’s educational rights in school, juvenile court, and out-of-home correctional settings.

  • This archived webinar available through the Center for Parent Information and Resources offers strategies that parent centers and others can use to advocate for youth with disabilities involved with the juvenile justice system. Policy perspectives and examples of systems advocacy efforts related to the State Correctional Education Self-Assessment are presented. A companion resource page also provides links to resources from Federal agencies, centers, and other organizations.

  • This webpage describes the goals for parents of youth with disabilities in the juvenile justice system, the barriers to their involvement, and ways that professionals can overcome these obstacles to partner with parents and improve outcomes for these youth.

  • This collection of information briefs covers several topics that can lead to youth with disabilities being involved in the juvenile justice system, including zero-tolerance policies, bullying, and truancy. It also includes a brief on navigating juvenile court. Each brief offers practical strategies families can implement.

  • This webpage describes the challenges that can contribute to participation in the juvenile justice system by youth with disabilities, and the issues that must be resolved to properly serve them while in these settings. It includes questions and strategies to consider, as well as a list of additional resources.

  • This multimedia resource examines ways in which families and juvenile justice agencies can work together to foster better outcomes for youth involved with the justice system. This program shares emerging research in this area and discusses how it affects policy and practice. It also features the experiences of young people and families who have been involved with the system and highlights their work to increase family-justice partnerships.

  • Developed by several legal experts, this presentation explains the connections between schools, youth with disabilities, and the juvenile justice system, including practical advice and information for each step of the justice process.

Supporting Families With Youth's Transition and Reentry to Home and Community