Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2021, $532,018)
Mental health disorders are prevalent among youths in the juvenile justice system. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, seventy percent of youth in the juvenile justice system have a diagnosable mental health condition. Youth with mental health disorders are underserved in the juvenile justice system and struggle with traditional forms of court intervention. They face stigma surrounding their mental health disorders, increased odds of recidivating, and multiple barriers to services. Our local juvenile justice system’s response to these youth have been limited to traditional court interventions, such as electronic monitoring, probation, detention, and court ordered evaluations which alone have proven to be minimally effective.
The Douglas County Board of Commissioners through the Douglas County Juvenile Programs Administration Department in partnership with Recovery Unlimited, LLC will implement a juvenile mental health court that utilizes a multi-disciplinary team approach. This will allow us to move away from traditional court interventions and focus on a strengths-based problem-solving court model. We will be able to remove participant’s barriers of accessing treatment and provide timely, evidence-based services.
We are seeking priority consideration under the following program-specific areas: promoting effective strategies to expand the use of mental health courts, proposing interventions that have been shown by empirical evidence to reduce recidivism, and using validated assessments to identify and prioritize moderate or high-risk individuals.
Through this project we intend to achieve the following: eliminate or reduce the stigma surrounding how mental health disorders affect youth and their families, decrease formal court interventions and the use of detention for youth diagnosed with a mental health disorder, improve public safety by reducing recidivism, improve family functioning by increasing mental health protective factors and making timely connections to evidence-based services.
The target population for the mental health court are youth with a mental health diagnosis who are pending disposition in juvenile court. We will target preliminary qualified offenders as outlined in the 21st Century Cures Act. We will be able to serve up to seventy-five youths over the life of this grant.