Developing Effective Policies for Addressing the Needs of Court-Involved Youth with Co-occurring Disorders focuses on policy and practice modifications juvenile drug courts should consider to serve youth with co-occurring disorders effectively. Recent findings indicate positive outcomes for youth, predominantly when courts are guided by the 16 strategies set forth by the Bureau of Justice Assistance and implement evidence-based practices. Common practices in juvenile drug treatment courts include heightened judicial oversight, cross-systems communication and collaboration, coordination of model court practices with evidence-based treatments, use of family and youth engagement strategies, recognition, and rewards for successful “graduation” from the program, and meaningful accountability of youth and service providers. Policy and practice should reflect highly localized responses based on judicial leadership, level of buy-in and collaboration among key partners, community needs and resources, and other characteristics of the court and community. Developing local capacity for integrated treatment may present as a challenge, but this capacity is essential to achieve positive outcomes for youth with co-occurring disorders. 

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 2014. 

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