Blueprint for Change: A Comprehensive Model for the Identification and Treatment of Youth with Mental Health Needs in Contact with the Juvenile Justice System represents 4 years of work to develop a conceptual and practical framework for juvenile justice and mental health systems to use when developing strategies, policies, and services aimed at improving mental health services for youth involved with the juvenile justice system. The Model, which sets the highest goals for systems to work toward, summarizes what we now know about the best way to identify and treat mental disorders among youth at key stages of the juvenile justice processing, and offers recommendations, guidelines, and examples for how best to do this.

The Model is supported by four Cornerstones—critical areas of improvement to enhance the delivery of mental health services for youth in contact with the juvenile justice system. The Cornerstones are collaboration, identification, diversion, and treatment.

The Model recognizes Critical Intervention Points that present opportunities to improve the Cornerstones. The Critical Intervention Points are initial contact with law enforcement, intake (probation or juvenile court), detention, judicial processing, dispositional alternatives (juvenile correctional placement or probation), and reentry.

The National Center for Youth Opportunity and Justice (NCYOJ) originally developed and maintained this resource. The NCYOJ was operated by Policy Research, Inc. and operated from 2001 to 2022 and was formerly known as the National Center for Mental Health and Juvenile Justice. The NCYOJ improved life opportunities for youth through systems and practice improvement initiatives.

This resource should be viewed as a reference document. It has not been updated since its publication. In addition, this document has not been made 508 compliant. If you would like a 508 compliant version of this document, please email

This resource was first shared in 2007.

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