Our Vision

Education: Reconnecting youth with educational settings is a demonstrated best practice.

Community: Re-entry practices should focus on inclusive, community-based experiences.

Employment: Work and training opportunities can help prepare youth for future employment and financial security.

Collaboration: Cross-agency collaboration enables continuity of services and helps address youths’ needs holistically.


This website is a hub for information about the Yang-Tan Institute’s projects focused on improving employment and other life outcomes for systems-involved youth with disabilities, including those impacted by juvenile justice, foster care, and other systems.


The website was initially developed as a technical assistance center for the Y-ReCONNECTS Juvenile Justice Reentry Community of Practice funded by the New York State Council on Developmental Disabilities (NYS CDD), from April 2019 through March 2024. It has since been expanded to house resources created under other grants, such as a toolkit for vocational rehabilitation professionals funded by a grant from the National Institute on Independent Living and Rehabilitation Research (NIDILRR), from July 2021 through August 2024. The resources on this site are designed to benefit youth, families, service providers, and other stakeholders in New York State and across the nation.

Project Leads: Systems-Impacted Youth Initiatives

Matt Saleh, JD, PhD

portrait of Matthew Saleh

Matt is passionate about improving collaboration among stakeholders to better serve youth. He is experienced in designing and managing data collection related to cross-agency collaboration and systems change. Before coming to Cornell, Matt provided GED instruction in correctional settings and worked as a special education teacher’s assistant. He is the research director for Cornell’s Justice and Employment Initiative (CJEI) and teaches undergraduate coursework on mass incarceration and U.S. disability law.

LaWanda Cook, PhD, CRC

portrait of LaWanda Cook

LaWanda is an experienced vocational rehabilitation practitioner, educator, and researcher who takes an intersectional approach to her work. She has designed and managed alternative sentencing programs and taught decision-making skills to justice-involved youth and adults. At Cornell, her projects emphasize wellbeing, systems change, and capacity building, including management of a national project to improve understanding and implementation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

Reimagining Reentry

Effective Collaboration Improves Systems Navigation

The Problem

Youth with disabilities are often simultaneously involved in multiple social services systems. It can be hard to know where to turn for help.

illustration of system involved youth trapped by confusing web of social systems

A Solution

Research suggests that agencies can improve case management and service coordination for youth through task-oriented approaches including:

  • developing formal interagency agreements with involved agencies
  • training staff to explicitly encourage and engage in collaboration
  • requiring interagency communication by supervisory and frontline staff
  • establishing methods of data and resource sharing to break down coordination silos and make systems more navigable for youth and families

Glossary of Terms

Need help understanding the language and processes of the juvenile justice system?