Disrupting School-Justice Pathways for Youth With Behavioral Health Needs highlights the prevalence of the use of exclusionary school discipline and arrest with youth who face behavioral health challenges and provides a road map for creating a system that instead offers youth connection to community-based services to address their behavioral health needs. That road map was developed by systems leaders in the field who successfully operationalized a “School Responder Model” (SRM), initially developed as part of Models for Change. SRMs have been shown to reduce the use of arrest in schools and increase access to behavioral health services for young people.

This technical assistance bulletin is intended to provide an overview of the steps necessary for implementing an SRM. It may be used to introduce colleagues or stakeholders to the history and core components of an SRM, may be used as supporting evidence in efforts to persuade policymakers to adapt similar policies, or may be used as a road map for beginning to stand up an initiative modeled after the SRM. Creation of this pathway to community-based services in lieu of a pathway to the juvenile justice system holds promise for improved opportunities for youth and additional resources for schools to address behavioral health needs without requiring a law enforcement response to school infractions that pose minimal threat to public safety.

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 communications@prainc.com.

This resource was first shared in 2017.

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