Transition for System-Involved Youth with Disabilities: Law, Compliance, and Support

Natasha M. Strassfeld

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


For youth with disabilities within the juvenile justice system, transition is multifaceted and can constitute movement from facility to facility or education placement to placement. However, within a juvenile justice context, transition is also a legal term of art that derives from a set of interrelated laws, policies, and procedures that guide juvenile justice system professionals’ transition practices and serves as a foundation for service delivery and associated youth outcomes. For youth with emotional disturbance (ED) or related conditions, transition also incorporates the process of migrating mental or behavioral health treatment or supports upon reentry. However, youth support during all facets of transition (e.g., compliance with legal transition mandates, placement, service continuity) is often insufficient to help youth transition successfully. Related to this, juvenile justice system professionals often struggle to use law and policy to guide their pre- and postrelease transition planning across education, mental and behavioral health, employment, and mentoring supports. Using a legal compliance focal point theoretical perspective, this article first explores the relevant legal provisions that address prerelease transition supports for youth with disabilities within the juvenile justice system. It then offers suggestions for building a framework to bridge the gap between legal compliance and transition support across the pre- and postrelease transition spectrum.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)37-47
Number of pages11
JournalEducation and Treatment of Children
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2021


  • Disability
  • Juvenile justice
  • Policy
  • Recidivism
  • Service delivery

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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