Many young people arrested in Washington, D.C., have mental health issues that to go unaddressed by the juvenile justice system, says a study by the D.C. Behavioral Health Association reported by the Washington Post. The report said that despite increased attention to the mental health of children and adolescents in the city, access to social workers, psychologists, and psychiatrists appears to lag far behind the need. The report said the fragmented structure of the juvenile justice system, which spans several entities and the executive and judicial branches of the D.C. government, made it difficult to paint a clear and complete picture of the needs.
The D.C. Council is holding a hearing on the city’s juvenile justice agency, the first since Mayor Adrian Fenty ousted its director, Marc Schindler. Fenty himself has been defeated for re-election. The new director, Robert Hildum, told the Post that intensive individual and family therapy programs have been “underutilized,”and instead, some juveniles who might have benefited from such interventions ended up in residential treatment facilities outside of the city. “I don’t think the services have been matched up as well as they should be,” he said.