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Comparison of Parent and Service Provider Perspectives on the Barriers to Services and Service Needs of Youth in the Juvenile Justice System

NCJ Number
Journal for Juvenile Justice and Detention Services Volume: 17 Issue: 2 Dated: Fall 2002 Pages: 103-114
Gregory J. Benner; Michael H. Epstein; Paul Mooney
Date Published
12 pages
This study assessed and compared the perspectives of parents and direct-service providers on the barriers to and service needs of youth in the juvenile justice system in one midwestern county.
The parents (n=132) were legal guardians of youth in the juvenile justice system, and the service providers (n=225) were employees of mental health, child welfare, juvenile justice, or alcohol and substance abuse agencies. Of those surveyed, responses were received from 50 parents (38-percent response rate) and 123 service providers (55 percent response rate). Two instruments were used to assess parent and service provider perspectives on the service needs of children and youth with mental health needs while in the juvenile justice system. The Mann-Whitney U Test was used to determine whether parents and service providers differed in their perceptions of service barriers and service needs. The top two barriers for both parents and service providers were the ability to pay for services and long waiting lists and periods. With only one exception (i.e., terms and jargon used by agencies), service providers rated items as larger barriers than did parents. Statistically significant differences were found on parents' and service providers' responses to five items: long waiting lists and periods, lack of planning for when a child moves from one placement to another placement, lack of good staff, lack of transportation services, and staff do not know about other cultures or speak other languages. Ten items were rated as major service needs according to both parents and service providers. With only two exceptions (i.e., substance abuse evaluation and legal counseling and knowledge), service providers rated items as greater service needs than did parents. Statistically significant differences between parents and service providers were found on 18 service priority items. In all cases, service providers rated these items as more of a priority than did parents. The methods used in this study may be instructive to communities who wish to conduct a comprehensive interagency needs assessment as part of developing their system of care for youth in the juvenile justice system. 2 tables and 26 references