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Do Mental Health Services Influence Child Welfare Involvement among Juvenile Justice System Involved Youth

Abstract

There is limited understanding of mental health service utilization among youth in the juvenile justice system (JJS). Using administrative data, the current study examined service system trajectories of two cohorts of youth who initially entered the JJS in 2003 (N = 10,170) and 2012 (N = 5,787). We tracked mental health (MH) service utilization and dosage and child welfare system (CWS) involvement for 3 years and found that utilization and dosage of MH services increased between both cohorts. Notably, MH service use positively associated with CWS involvement and concurrent (dual) involvement in the CWS and JJS associated with decreased MH dosage if youth remained at home versus being placed in out-of-home care. Lastly, African American children received less services than their Caucasian peers. Future efforts should focus on preparing MH providers to detect youth who are dually involved and tailor services to enhance collaboration and information sharing across systems.

Highlights

  • We examined service system trajectories of two cohorts of youth who initially entered the juvenile justice system (JJS).

  • Use of mental health (MH) services among JJS involved youth associated with an increased likelihood of child welfare system (CWS) involvement.

  • African American youth received fewer MH services than their Caucasian counterparts.

  • MH service providers may play a role in whether JJS-involved youth enter the CWS.

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Correspondence to Antonio Garcia.

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Garcia, A., Kim, M. & Barnhart, S. Do Mental Health Services Influence Child Welfare Involvement among Juvenile Justice System Involved Youth. J Child Fam Stud (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10826-021-02143-7

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Keywords

  • Juvenile justice
  • Mental health services
  • Child welfare
  • Racial disparity
  • Dualsystem-involved youth