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Research often cites the need for greater family involvement in the juvenile justice system.
Most parents care deeply about their children and are at a loss about what to do. They may be frightened, overwhelmed and confused by the court language and procedure. They may feel blamed and shamed because their child is in trouble with the law.
There are no user friendly guides for parents about what they need to do, whom they need to see, or what information needs to go to court. Many parents do not even know that they can request a public defender. They may also not realize that the public defender is representing their child, and not them, or that public defenders have very little time to spend with them prior to their court appearance.
In many cases, parents may arrive at court at the appointed time and their case may not be heard until hours later. Because of this, they may fear that they will lose their job and they may lose some salary. Parents may also be unable to read the court documents, or they have such significant personal health or family and life issues that they are unable to participate, let alone advocate for their child.
The family backgrounds of youth in the juvenile justice system may be varied and complex, but the need remains to reach out to family members who can be a powerful force for positive change. Despite the existing barriers to parental involvement in the juvenile justice system, parents should be informed of their youth’s educational rights in school, juvenile court, and out-of-home correctional settings.
- Improving Family Involvement for Juvenile Offenders with Emotional/Behavioral Disorders and Related Disabilities
By Lili Garfinkel, PACER Center
- One Parent’s Experience with the Juvenile Justice System
- Family Involvement in Pennsylvania’s Juvenile Justice System
Models for Change-Pennsylvania
- Working With Families of Students With Disabilities Facing Juvenile Court, presented by Amy Goetz, Founder and Attorney, School Law Center, MN, and Jean Brandl, Attorney, Heltzer and Houghtaling, PA, at the 2013 IDEA Leadership Conference
- The Role of Family Engagement in Creating Trauma-Informed Juvenile Justice Systems, by Liane Rozzell, Families and Allies of Virginia Youth, from the National Child Traumatic Stress Network