Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2021, $335,070)
Research has demonstrated that youth of color are overrepresented within juvenile justice system, and many of these youth present with complex needs. As many as 70% have diagnosable mental health conditions, 75% have histories of trauma and victimization, and 90% report adverse childhood experiences. Given the overrepresentation of non-white youth in detention, the overrepresentation of detained youth with mental illness (MI) or co-occurring mental illness and substance abuse (CMISA), and the multitude of structural and systemic barriers to community-based mental health treatment services, there is an urgent need to ensure detention facilities can provide culturally-responsive care to youth with MI/CMISA in their custody.
Over the past three years, Douglas County, Nebraska, has partnered with multiple community-based mental health providers to implement its behavioral health initiative. The goal of this initiative is to ensure that youth detained at the Douglas County Youth Center (DCYC) are screened, assessed, and connected to suitable services to reduce behavioral issues, both internally and externally. Douglas County is requesting $419,525 under this grant to expand on the groundwork laid by the initiative. Specifically, these funds will be used to: (1) increase the treatment capacity of DCYC by hiring a full-time licensed mental health practitioner; (2) support positive youth development (PYD) through comprehensive life skills training; and (3) incorporate virtual reality in the therapeutic realm both as an enhancement to traditional therapy, and with regard to PYD as a way to keep kids engaged with positive stimuli.
Douglas County will be the lead agency on this grant, in continued partnership with the Charles Drew Health Center, University of Nebraska Medical Center Department of Psychiatry, and CHI Health Department of Psychiatry. The target population will be youth newly admitted to DCYC who are determined to have moderate or high mental health needs. Approximately 620 unique youth are admitted to DCYC, annually; close to 30% are admitted multiple times, and around 85% are youth of color.
This proposal will address two program-specific priority areas: the use of validated assessment tools, and active participation with Douglas County’s co-applicant in administering the project to provide treatment to detained youth that will aid in their transition into the community in a way that increases public safety. Douglas County is not a previous recipient of JMHCP grant funds.