This brief takes a close look at the importance of true collaboration between community‐based child‐serving agencies in providing a comprehensive array of services and supports and fostering positive outcomes for this population. The creation of effective and efficient community‐based programs that serve youth with mental health needs who are in contact with the juvenile justice system requires a level of collaboration between the mental health and juvenile justice systems that many communities have found difficult to achieve. The challenges to such collaboration, however, are not insurmountable, and there are practical things a community can do to create an environment that is conducive to collaboration. Implementing these strategies can help overcome traditional barriers to collaboration and build systems of care that use collaboration as a foundation for serving youth in 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 2010.

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