Juvenile Court Aligned Action Network



What is the Juvenile Court Aligned Action Network (JCAAN)?

JCAAN formed in early 2018 to push the work of the Juvenile Court Education Partnership toward greater impact. This previous body worked for more than three years to steadily improve education results for justice-engaged youth via seven strategies. JCAAN is a collaborative of more than 20 organization committed to achieving “general population” parity for justice-engaged youth in high school completion. Partners are listed below.

Issue Statement

Youth who experience the juvenile justice system in Santa Clara County have many assets that make it possible for them to achieve their education and career goals. However, the structures of the education, juvenile justice and other systems, as well as the adults who work within them, frequently fail to recognize and support these strengths. When youth arrive at probation, it is often with a history of poor education results, and during the time that they are justice-involved, it is challenging for them to make meaningful educational progress.1 Data shows that they are dramatically more likely than the general population of students to have a learning disability or other special need, are disproportionately low-income youth of color, and have experienced trauma.2 Additionally, systemic barriers such as low education funding and institutionalized racism complicate the youth’s ability to attain their education goals.3 Data also indicates that, after exiting probation, youth graduate and move on to post-secondary education at rates far below the general population.4 This puts justice involved youth at substantial disadvantage at the very moment that educational success is more closely tied to the ability to achieve self-sufficiency than at any time in American history.5 Consequently, these youth need improved access to individual and community resources, as well as the support of well-functioning systems, to eliminate barriers and build their academic and social-emotional skills. These supports will allow them to reach grade level performance, sustain their academic engagement, and achieve their post-graduate goals.

Our “Big Hairy Audacious Goal”

By 2023, 80% of young people exiting juvenile probation in Santa Clara County will have earned or be on track to earn a secondary credential, and have a well-developed postsecondary plan.

How JCAAN Will Achieve this Goal

JCAAN members commit to working in deep collaboration to ensure justice-engaged youth have access to the necessary array of supportive service to complete high school. Currently, due to the lack of data on youth outcomes, best practices, and the service landscape, JCAAN is focused on gathering data and assembling data to support shared understanding and a concrete plan rooted in data.

Organizational/Operational Values

Data First: the FYAAN grounds its work in data and seeks to ensure all decision are rooted in the highest quality of data available. We do not sacrifice data that is good enough to support progress in pursuit of the prefect data set. Further, we seek measure the results of our work in quantifiable ways that make use of existing data sources.
Solutions and Results Focused: the FYAAN focuses its energy and approach on achieving measurable results. We seek solutions to difficult problems; when solutions are suggested by a FYAAN member, no matter how difficult they may appear to be to implement, they will be explored in good faith. Further, we avoid becoming bogged down in the who and the how of the status quo, and we do not assign blame. Nor, do we draw lines in the sand. We steadily and intentionally focus our efforts on achieving the outcomes that matter most for young people.
Inclusion of Youth Voice: the work of the FYAAN and of its member organizations is informed, and to the greatest extent possible, led, by youth who are experiencing or who have had contact with the juvenile justice system. We are ready and willing to adapt our structures, processes, and practices to ensure we conduct our business in a manner that supports the ability of young people to participate, and ensures they find an authentically receptive audience.
Ground in a Whole Person Approach: the FYAAN recognizes that young people do not exist in a vacuum, and often the circumstances that led to their involvement in the child welfare system are myriad and complex. Further, we acknowledge that youth in child welfare system may have experienced traumatic events before their entry into the system as well as during their time in the system. The FYAAN and its member organizations will strive to use trauma-responsive, healing-informed practices.
Prioritize Equity: the FYAAN does not shy away from addressing complicated, long-standing structural and institutional racism, discrimination, harassment, and biases that exist in and across systems, and which contribute to inequitable outcomes for children and their families.


    1. Educational needs were prevalent among many youth in Santa Clara County’s Probation population. Seventy-five percent of boys under 14 identified some type of school issue (achievement problems(50%) and lack of intellectual capacity (25%). 39% of boys had been suspended at least once and 32% have major truancy issues or dropped out. 62% of girls have been enrolled in two or more schools, are not attending school or dropped out. Juvenile Services Report to SVCN (March 2018);
      Nationally, 25% of youth in custody repeated a grade and 48% of youth in custody were below grade in learning. Just Learning: The Imperative to Transform Juvenile Justice Systems Into Effective Education Systems (2014)
      In Santa Clara County, justice engaged youth are half as likely as youth impacted by other systems to make educational progress. Youth Outcomes Report: Year Three of Santa Clara County Opportunity Youth Partnership (July 2017)
    2. Nationally, youth with emotional disturbance make up 47.4% of student with disabilities in secure care, while in the general public school population they account for only about eight percent of students with disabilities.
      Making the Right Turn: A Guide About Improving Transition Outcomes for Youth Involved in the Juvenile Corrections System (2008);
      Nationally, 30% of in custody youth are diagnosed with a learning disability
      Just Learning; The Imperative to Transform Juvenile Justice Systems Into Effective Educational Systems (2014);
      Nationally, up to two-thirds of incarcerated youth met diagnostic criteria for one or more psychiatric disorder. Detained and committed youth: Examining differences in achievement, mental health needs, and special education status. (2008)
    3. “Undesirable physical condition” of schools associated with a high rate of student delinquency Christle, Jolivette, & Nelson, p. 83, 2005 Available here.
      “Juvenile Law Center’s Juveniles for Justice, a program that offers youth the opportunity to develop and implement advocacy projects to improve the juvenile justice system, has recently developed a focus on the educational needs of youth in custody. From their own accounts, youth often experience barriers such as the lack of: appropriate schoolwork for age, grade, or developmental ability; educational resources such as libraries, textbooks, or technology; and high quality teachers and staff while they are incarcerated.” – Farn, A., Adams, J. (2016). Education and Interagency Collaboration: A Lifeline for Justice-Involved Youth. Available here.
      See, e.g., Annamma, S. et al (2014). Disproportionality Fills In the Gaps: Connections Between Achievement, Discipline, and Special Education in the School-to-Prison Pipeline. Berkeley Rev. of Education, 5(1).Available here.
      See, e.g., Gregory, A. et al (2010). The Achievement Gap and the Discipline Gap: Two Sides of the Same Coin? Educational Researcher, 39:59. Available here.
    4. In a study of Chicago justice engaged youth, 26% of arrested students obtained a high school diploma and 16% enrolled in a 4 year college
      Juvenile Arrest and Collateral Education Damage in the Transition to Adulthood. (2012) *this is specific to Chicago
      Nationally, 20% of formerly incarcerated youth have high school diplomas or GEDs:
      Education and Interagency Collaboration: A Lifeline for Justice-Involved Youth. (2016)
    5. Describes the relentless shift toward ever increasing educational requirements for employment. This shift has continued unabated, and in fact, accelerated since the Great Recession, such that 11.5M of the 11.6M jobs created since the Great Recession have gone to those with at least some college.(2016) Available here.
      Haskins, Ron et al. 2009. Promoting Economic Mobility by Increasing Postsecondary Education. The Pew Trusts, Washington DC.
      Isaacs, Julia. 2007. Economic Mobility of Families across Generations. Policy Brief, Center on Children and Families, the Brookings Institution