National Center for Youth Law


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Publications — Apr-Sept 2011

Juvenile Justice

Social and Biological Constructions of Youth: Implications for Juvenile Justice and Racial Equity
NCYL Staff Attorney Patricia Soung

Northwestern Journal of Law and Social Policy
Spring 2011

This article, by NCYL Staff Attorney Patricia Soung, explores conflicting rhetoric regarding youth who commit crimes. It argues that youth and race are fluid concepts, and that race informs the social constructions of youth. These constructions lead to racial bias in the juvenile justice system, with youth of color far more likely to be involved in the system than white youth.

Formal System Processing of Juveniles: Effects on Delinquency
Anthony Petrosino, Carolyn Turpin-Petrosino, and Sarah Guckenburg
Campbell Collaboration
January 29, 2010

Juvenile offenders who enter the juvenile justice system are more likely to offend again than those offenders who are diverted to counseling or other programs. This review of 29 studies from around the world shows that formal processing of juveniles does not decrease future delinquency, even when compared to simply letting juvenile offenders go.

Sentencing Children to Death by Incarceration: A Deadly Denial of Social Responsibility
Robert Johnson and Sonia Tabriz
The Prison Journal

April 2011
Subscription required

Children sentenced to life without parole do not receive the resources necessary to mature into well-adjusted adults, resources that society is obligated to provide them. This review also finds that offenders convicted of murder have lower rates of recidivism than other felons, suggesting that not only are juvenile life without parole sentences an unfair denial of social responsibility, they are also unnecessary.

Renewing Juvenile Justice
Daniel Macallair, Mike Males, Dinky Manek Enty, and Natasha Vinakor
Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice

March 2011

In the face of severe budget cut, private and non-profit foundations should help California juvenile justice departments develop uniform policies and data-gathering practices at the county level. This report also recommends that county juvenile justice departments use more federal funding to provide mental health services for youth.


Nevada’s Children’s Report Card 2010
Children’s Advocacy Alliance

January 2011

Nevada continues to do a poor job of ensuring that its children are safe, healthy, and well-educated. This report, which rates Nevada in 20 different areas such as infant mortality and teen birth rates, found that the state overall achieved a D-, down from the D+ it received two years ago.

2011 KIDS Count Data Book
Annie E. Casey Foundation

August 2011

Each year, the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s KIDS COUNT Data Book provides information and data trends on the conditions of children and families in the United States. This year’s Data Book explores how children and families are faring in the wake of the recession and why it matters to help kids reach their full potential to become part of a robust economy and society.

It Gets Better: Coming Out, Overcoming Bullying, and Creating a Life Worth Living
Edited by Dan Savage and Terry Miller

This collection of essays was published in response to recent suicides of gay youth. It includes essays by adults who survived bullying as gay youth, as well as politicians, celebrities, and religious leaders.

The Fleecing of Foster Children
How We Confiscate Their Assets and Undermine Their Financial Security
First Star and the Children’s Advocacy Institute

When a foster child is eligible for survivor benefits or disability funds, states confiscate the child’s money to compensate themselves for the costs of care, instead of conserving the child’s own funds to assist him/her during the difficult transitional years ahead. This report asks: “Is that what we should do as responsible parents: launch destitute children into the world on their own at age 18 with zero assets and no familial safety net to catch them when they fall?”

Moving in the Right Direction: More Kids in Families
Annie E. Casey Foundation

August 2011

Since 2000, many states have reduced the number of foster children placed in group homes and institutional settings, which do not provide children with the support they might receive living in a family. An analysis of federal foster care statistics shows that 31,000 fewer children were living in group homes in 2009 than in 2000. However, older youths continue to be placed in group homes and are at a greater risk of exiting foster care without family connections.

Child Welfare Financing Reform: The Importance of Maintaining the Entitlement to Foster Care Funding
Angie Schwartz and Amy Lemley
Clearinghouse Review Journal of Poverty Law and Policy

March-April 2011
Subscription required

Recent proposals to turn the federal entitlement that funds states’ foster care into a capped allocation would put states at risk of losing federal dollars and undermine support for foster care. Through a system of capped allocations, a state would receive a set amount of funding and would be granted more flexibility in how to spend it than under current policies, which tie the amount of funding a state receives to how many children are in its child welfare system.

Child Maltreatment 2009
Children’s Bureau, US Department of Health and Human Services

June 2011

An estimated 1,770 children in the US died from abuse or neglect in 2009, and more than 700,000 children were victims of abuse or neglect, according to data collected by each state’s child protective services agency. As in past years, neglect continues to be the most prevalent form of abuse.

Disentangling Substantiation: The Influence of Race, Income, and Risk on the Substantiation Decision in Child Welfare
Allan Dettlaff, Stephanie Rivaux, Donald Baumann, John Fluke, Joan Rycraft, and Joyce James
Children and Youth Services Review

September 2011
Subscription required

African American children are strongly overrepresented in the foster care system, making up 30 percent of the foster care population but only 15 percent of the total population. This study looks at data from the Texas child welfare system to explain why child protective services are more likely to substantiate the abuse of children of some races. The study also looks at how income level affects the substantiation process.

Race and Child Welfare: Disproportionality, Disparity, Discrimination: Re-Assessing the Facts, Re-Thinking the Policy Options
Elizabeth Bartholet
Child Advocacy Program, Harvard Law School

July 2011

The overrepresentation of African American children in the child welfare system may not be the result of racial bias on the part of social workers, as is often argued. Rather, recent evidence shows that African American children are abused or neglected at higher rates than their peers. The findings suggest that policies should focus on reducing maltreatment rates in lower-income communities, rather than simply decreasing the number of African American children taken into foster care.