Juvenile Treatment Providers Experiment With Public Health Approach


Many youths in juvenile detention with substance abuse disorders get poor or no treatment, Reclaiming Futures, a nonprofit that helps young people in trouble with drugs, alcohol and crime tells the Juvenile Justice Information Exchange. It's now experimenting with a public health approach. With a $2 million grant from the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation, it is setting up a three-year pilot program using SBIRT (Screening, Brief Intervention and Referral to Treatment.) SBIRT was developed for medical settings such as health clinics and doctors' offices, but “our setting is the juvenile justice system,” said Jim Carlton of Reclaiming Futures.

Among kids at risk for court involvement, 17 percent have substance abuse problems. By the time they go before a judge and receive permanent placement in the justice system, the proportion is 47 percent, the organization says. Policy Research Associates also received a Hilton grant to pioneer the use of SBIRT in juvenile justice work. Reclaiming Futures normally works with kids who are already on probation or are incarcerated, Carlton said. However, it will use SBIRT with kids who “bump up against the juvenile justice system but are not quite in it yet,” he said.

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