Juvenile Drug Treatment Court Guidelines

Nationwide, more than 400 juvenile drug treatment courts (JDTCs) offer a way to respond to the complex needs of youth with substance use disorders, which often require specialized interventions. Courts are continually developing and refining their treatment-oriented approach for adolescents with substance use disorders and involved in the juvenile justice system.

Click to view the full map on the OJJDP websiteThe new Juvenile Drug Treatment Court Guidelines, an evidence-based toolkit for courts, emphasize family engagement, address substance use and mental health disorders of adolescents in the system, and incorporate a developmental perspective for the JDTC interventions.

The guidelines were developed under an agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) by AIR researchers and federal partners, George Mason University, Vanderbilt University, WestEd, and the Court-Centered Change Consultant Network.

Courts can use the guidelines to align their current practices with evidence-based practices. New courts may find them helpful in designing models and practices. The guidelines are based on systematic reviews of research, policies, and practices, with a focus on: effectiveness and implementation of juvenile drug court programming nationwide; adolescent substance use treatment programs; and the implementation of adolescent-focused, evidence-based programs in the juvenile justice, education, health, and child welfare fields.

The guidelines address youth eligibility criteria, court processes, case management practices based on comprehensive needs assessments, evidence-based treatment for substance use disorders, and monitoring of progress to program completion. The tool features an interactive map that helps users navigate through each guideline, and provides links to additional resources.

View the full guidelines on the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention website.