National Standards for the Care of Youth Charged with Status Offenses

As part of the SOS Project, CJJ has created the National Standards for the Care of Youth Charged with Status Offenses. A status offender is a juvenile charged with or adjudicated for conduct that would not, under the law of the jurisdiction in which the offense was committed, be a crime if committed by an adult. The most common examples of status offenses are chronic or persistent truancy, running away, violating curfew laws, or possessing alcohol or tobacco. The National Standards aim to promote best practices for this population, based in research and social service approaches, to better engage and support youth and families in need of assistance. Given what we know, the National Standards call for an absolute prohibition on detention of status offenders and seek to divert them entirely from the delinquency system by promoting the most appropriate services for families and the least restrictive placement options for status offending youth.

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The National Standards were developed by the Coalition for Juvenile Justice (CJJ) in partnership with the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges (NCJFCJ) and a team of experts from various jurisdictions, disciplines and perspectives, including juvenile and family court judges, child welfare and juvenile defense attorneys, juvenile corrections and detention administrators, community-based service providers, and practitioners with expertise in responding to gender-specific needs. Many hours were devoted to discussing, debating and constructing a set of ambitious yet implementable standards that are portable, easily understood, and designed to spur and inform state and local policy and practice reforms.

The National Standards build on the original intent of the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act (JJDPA) and its Deinstitutionalization of Status Offenders core requirement, recent efforts to eliminate the Valid Court Order exception in Congress (S. 3155 and S. 678), and the “safety, permanency and well-being” framework set forth in the Adoption and Safe Families Act of 1997 (ASFA). Like ASFA’s focus on the child’s best interest, the National Standards call for system responses that keep youth and their families’ best interests at the center of the intervention. Individually and collectively, the National Standards promote system reforms and changes in system culture, as well as the workforce needed to ensure ensures adoption and implementation of empirically-supported policies, programs and practices that effectively meet the needs of youth, their families and the community.

Looking for a printable file? Download the complete National Standards for the Care of Youth Charged with Status Offenses