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TAC Continues Work on Justice-Involved Youth Through New SAMHSA-MacArthur Foundation Initiative

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

The U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) and the MacArthur Foundation announced this week a collaborative effort targeting the behavioral health needs of youth in contact with the juvenile justice system. Building on the success of the collaboration's previous two-year project to divert youth with behavioral health conditions from the juvenile justice system to community-based programs and services, the new initiative will continue to advance these reforms.

Up to five states will be selected competitively to participate in this new initiative based on the state's commitment to improving policies and programs for these youth. This innovative collaborative effort integrates SAMHSA's Policy Academy mechanism, which brings together state leadership teams to learn about effective interventions and the latest research. The states' leadership teams also learn about the Foundation's Models for Change Action Networks strategy, which supports and links teams working on similar innovations in policy and practice. This combination of resources will support state efforts to develop and implement policies and programs that divert youth, as early as possible, from the juvenile justice system.

The initiative will emphasize:

  • Diverting youth with co-occurring mental and substance use disorders from the juvenile justice system
  • Incorporating screening and assessment practices throughout the juvenile justice system
  • Recognizing the important roles of evidence-based practice, treatment, and trauma-informed services
  • Increasing collaboration among stakeholders to facilitate access to evidence-based community treatment and services
  • Reducing the overrepresentation of youth of color in the juvenile justice system

TAC, in partnership with the National Center for Mental Health and Juvenile Justice at Policy Research Associates, Inc., will be coordinating this project and will be part of the team offering technical assistance to the selected states to guide the establishment of models and strategies for diverting youth with behavioral health disorders as early as possible from the juvenile justice system to appropriate community-based behavioral health services.

View the Press Release