Involving Families of Youth Who Are in Contact with the Juvenile Justice System explores the benefits and methods of family participation in all stages of the system. Family engagement is critical to ensuring positive outcomes for justice-involved youth with behavioral health needs. To facilitate their involvement, families need information, training, and support at all stages of their child’s experience with the juvenile justice system.

Families need information and consistent communication to reduce confusion, frustration, and disappointment. Family-run organizations can be critical resources for providing emotional support families need for coping with the fear, anxiety, humiliation, anger, frustration, distrust, and disappointment they experience when encountering the juvenile justice system.

Families and child-serving systems working together can affect changes in policy and funding that will ensure a better future for children and youth with behavioral health conditions who are in contact with the juvenile justice system.

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 2002.

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