Infrastructure of Community-based Programs

Section 4.2

State and Local Policymakers and Advocates Should Support an Infrastructure of Community-based and Child and Family Serving Programs and Systems to Ensure Direct Youth and Family Access to a Seamless, Comprehensive and Non-judicial Continuum of Care that is Empowered and Resourced to Respond to Behaviors that Might Otherwise be Labeled as Status Offenses

When youth present with behaviors currently labeled status offenses, state authorities should not mandate, empower or expect the courts to step into the parent’s place, reign in the child and/or meet the needs of the family.  Judicial intervention in these instances can disempower the parent, confuse roles and responsibilities and delay access to needed services.  Moreover, judicial intervention subjects both child and family to court orders and interventions that can trigger fines, detention orders and other inappropriate and potentially progressive punitive sanctions.

State policymakers should develop and implement laws and policies that provide direct links between youth and families and experts in the child and family welfare, mental health and educational systems - without judicial intervention.  These laws and policies should support community-based services and programs that have proven successful and empower families to safely self-identify themselves to child- and family-serving systems and access needed services without fear of judgment or reprisal.  These laws and policies should also empower child- and family-serving systems to quickly identify families in need, respectfully assess areas of strength and need, and connect families to appropriate services, including services that affirm and strengthen the parents’ capabilities and expand the parents’ access to supports that help them effectively fulfill their parental roles.