About Youth Drug Treatment Court

Learn more about the goals and elements of youth drug treatment court.

Youth drug treatment court (YTC) focuses on juvenile delinquency (e.g., criminal) matters and status offenses (e.g., truancy) that involve substance-using youths. YTC works with non-violent, juvenile offenders whose drug and / or alcohol use is negatively impacting their lives at home, in school, and the community.

The YTC is designed to provide immediate and continuous court intervention that includes requiring the child and family to participate in treatment, submit to frequent drug testing, appear at frequent court status hearings, and comply with other court conditions geared to accountability, rehabilitation, long-term sobriety and cessation of criminal activity.

The underlying premise of the youth drug treatment court is to provide immediate treatment interventions for youth using drugs and / or alcohol, and their families and to provide structure for the participants through the on-going, active involvement and oversight of the treatment court judge and court-based team.

Common goals of youth treatment courts include:

  • Provide youth with an opportunity to become clean and sober.
  • Provide constructive support to aid them in resisting further criminal activity.
  • Provide support to perform well in school and develop positive relationships in the community. 
  • Provide skills and interventions to support and develop healthy family relationships and skills that will aid them in leading productive, substance-free and crime-free lives.

11 Key Elements of Youth and Family Drug Treament Courts

  1. A Steering Committee composed of key stakeholders to provide advice in the design and operation of the drug treatment court.
  2. Alcohol and other drug treatment services that are integrated with justice system case processing.
  3. Use of a non-adversarial approach, with prosecution and defense counsel promoting public safety while protecting participants' due process rights.
  4. Early identification and prompt placement of eligible participants.
  5. Access to a continuum of alcohol, drug, and other related treatment and rehabilitation services.
  6. Frequent team meetings where each client's progress, strengths, obstacles, and options are discussed individually, and case plans are updated as needed.
  7. Frequent alcohol and other drug testing.
  8. A coordinated strategy that governs drug court responses to participants' compliance.
  9. Judicial interaction that is ongoing with each drug court participant.
  10. Interdisciplinary education that promotes effective planning, implementation, and operations.
  11. Partnerships among drug courts, public agencies, and community-based organizations