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Education & Health Rights of Children and Youth with Special Needs in Child Welfare & Juvenile Justice

Helping families work together with professionals across the systems that serve children

Helping families know their rights to ensure that infants, toddlers, children, youth and young adults with special needs receive the early intervention, education, and transition services they need for a productive life, the PTI also works with families who have children at risk of inappropriate identification and classification.

 About Us / Our Programs / How we help families → Education & Health Rights CW-JJ

Training Families & Advocates

  • Facilitating county workshops for families and professionals
  • Disseminating family guides
  • Providing technical assistance to families and youth advocates
  • Training families and youth to advocate for quality education and healthcare services

Training Youth Self-Advocates

  • Provides training on self-advocacy and rights to youth in New Jersey’s secure juvenile justice detention system in the year prior to their release back into the community
  • Works with the diversion programs to encourage youth self-advocacy and support youth accessing the education, health, and mental health services they need to avoid secure detention

Training Social Workers

Providing professional development to every new social worker in New Jersey’s child welfare system:

  • SPAN peer supports
  • Resources for children and families involved in the child welfare system
  • Highlighting family-professional partnership strategies
  • Trainings on education and health rights of children and youth in child welfare and juvenile justice, health advocacy, education advocacy, youth self-advocacy

More Information

Useful Links & Websites

Child Protection & Permanency |  Includes guides for foster parents and parents involved in the child welfare system

Education Stability for Children in Child Welfare |  Information on the New Jersey statute that permits children to remain in their home school when they enter foster care

Family Support Resources of DCF Resources |  Directory providing access to resources designed to strengthen families, prevent child abuse or neglect, and empower survivors of domestic and sexual violence

Juvenile Justice Resource Hub |  Information on juvenile justice issues, relevant research, best practice models, policy levers for reform, toolkits and action-oriented documents, and experts in the field

Kinship Care Resources |  NJ Department of Children and Families’ Kinship Navigator Program page supports caregivers who have taken on the responsibility of caring for their relatives’ children

NJ Juvenile Justice Commissioner |  Home page for the state of New Jersey’s Juvenile Justice Commission in the Department of Law and Public Safety

NJ Juvenile Justice Commission-Special Needs Services |  Targeted links for information on Mental Health, Juvenile Sex Offenders, Substance Abuse, Aggression Replacement Training (ART)

National Parent Helpline |  Trained advocates listen, offer emotional support, help problem-solve, connect parents to local services, and more

Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention |  Supports states, local communities, and tribal jurisdictions with research, program, and training initiatives; priorities, goals, and policies to guide federal juvenile justice issues; information about juvenile justice issues; and funding to states to support local programming

Parents Anonymous Support Groups |  Supporting parents and children in strengthening families, advocating for better services, and building resilient communities

Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)  |  Within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, leads public health efforts to advance the behavioral health of the nation and reduce the impact of substance abuse and mental illness on America’s communities

Youth Violence Prevention Initiatives  |  Resources for the prevention and elimination of violence and the promotion of positive youth development and well-being


What Our Families Say

Child Welfare: Before this workshop, I had no idea that I still had rights to make decisions about my child’s education and health even though they are in foster care. Today I learned about my rights, and how important it is for me to fight for what I know is right for my child and not be pressured to just go along. Now I know that there are other parents in my situation who can support me. Knowledge is power, and after today I am going to talk to every parent I come across and spread the word!

Juvenile Justice: I was ashamed so I almost didn’t come to this workshop. Now I know that there is somewhere to go for help for my child in the juvenile justice system. I know their rights, and I know where to turn. I know more about how the juvenile justice system works. And I know that my child should be receiving special education services even though they are incarcerated. I know more about how to advocate for my child, and I know that SPAN is there to help me if I need them. I’m so glad I came!

Contact Us


Diana Autin

Project Director
(973) 642-8100 x 105

Carolyn Hayer

Director of Parent & Professional Development
(973) 642-8100 x 102

For Individualized Assistance,

Call our Warmline: (800) 654 SPAN (7756) or (973) 642-8100

Contact Us

This project is funded by the NJ State Bar Foundation.