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Healthy Returns Initiative: Strengthening Mental Health Services in the Juvenile Justice System

NCJ Number
Date Published
February 2010
43 pages
This report presents the methodology and findings of an evaluation of the California Endowment's Healthy Returns Initiative (HRI), which is designed to strengthen the capacity of probation departments to improve access to mental health and health services for adolescents in detention facilities and following their release.
The HRI models varied from county to county. Each county used the same types of tools, but implemented them differently. Each program used evidence-based treatment plans in conjunction with community service providers, and the services were overseen by a multidisciplinary team (MDT). The teams included different types of organizations for each county, based on the resources and availability of community partnerships and the court system. The HRI model in each county was successful in the areas of systems change. Systems change activities included the development of policies, procedures, and protocols; service integration; resource development; and community awareness. Another domain of promising practices involved new/expanded/enhanced programming. This consisted of mental health screening by probation staff, referral to services, and treatment and service delivery. Each county's HRI activities and evaluation findings are described. The evaluation focused on several broad research questions that examined the implementation and results of each grantee's proposal. An important part of the evaluation was the documentation of HRI client characteristics and the referrals and services received by these clients. These data document the needs for physical and mental health services, the efforts of HRI program staff to make system change in a variety of ways, and the linking of youth to services both at the institution and in the community. 10 tables, 4 figures, and 8 references