Most youth move through adolescence experiencing little or no adversity and successfully transition into adult roles and responsibilities. However, a proportion of youth struggle to achieve developmental goals and become disconnected from mainstream institutions and systems-including schools. These youth are vulnerable to further failures and continued disconnection from society, often resulting in lifelong economic and social hardship. Alternative education may be a source of both disconnection from and reconnection to mainstream institutions for these youth. This paper describes the ways youth disconnect from developmental pathways and examines how alternative education schools and programs can meet the needs of vulnerable youth.