Collaboration Aims to Improve Juvenile Justice System Responses to Youth with Behavioral Needs

The National Center for Mental Health and Juvenile Justice, at Policy Research, Inc., and the Technical Assistance Collaborative are coordinating an initiative aimed at increasing the number of youth with co-occurring mental and substance use disorders diverted out of the juvenile justice system to appropriate community-based behavioral health services, and to reduce the inappropriate and unnecessary contact of these youth with the juvenile justice system.

This effort integrates the Policy Academy mechanism, which brings together state leadership teams to learn about effective interventions and the latest research, and the Action Network strategy, which supports and links teams working on similar innovations in policy and practice.

Eight states were competitively selected to participate in this initiative based on their commitment to improving policies and programs for youth with co-occurring mental and substance use disorders, and the overall appropriateness of fit of their proposed work to the goals of this initiative. Selected states are:

  • Arkansas
  • Kentucky
  • Michigan
  • Minnesota
  • Mississippi
  • New York
  • South Carolina
  • Virginia

States participating in this initiative will benefit from this process in a number of ways. Teams will have access to a wealth of resources including leading experts in the field and the latest resources and information, will participate in an innovative change process designed to assist states in tackling complex issues, and will obtain technical assistance to support the implementation of front-end diversion policies and programs for youth with co-occurring disorders.

A Policy Academy will be convened on June 27-28, 2012 and an Action Network meeting in early September 2012. It is expected that the work of this initiative will continue through March 2013.

This initiative is supported by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration and the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.

Academy, Behavioral health, Co-occurring disorders, Juvenile justice