The missing link (age): Multilevel contributors to service uptake failure among youths on community justice supervision

Gail A. Wasserman, Larkin S. McReynolds, Faye S. Taxman, Steven Belenko, Katherine S. Elkington, Angela A. Robertson, Michael L. Dennis, Danica K. Knight, Hannah K. Knudsen, Richard Dembo, Adam Ciarleglio, Tisha R.A. Wiley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations

Abstract

Objectives: Youths in the juvenile justice system often do not access needed behavioral health services. The behavioral health services cascade model was used to examine rates of substance use screening, identification of substance use treatment needs, and referral to and initiation of treatment among youths undergoing juvenile justice system intake and to identify when treatment access is most challenged. Characteristics associated with identification of behavioral health needs and linkage to community services were also examined. Methods: Data were drawn from administrative records of 33 community justice agencies in seven states participating in Juvenile Justice-Translational Research on Interventions for Adolescents in the Legal System, funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (N=8,307 youths). Contributions of youth, staff, agency, and county characteristics to identification of behavioral health needs and linkage to community services were examined. Results: More than 70% (5,942 of 8,307) of youths were screened for substance use problems, and more than half needed treatment. Among those in need, only about one-fifth were referred to treatment, and among those referred, 67.5% initiated treatment. Overall,,10% of youths with identified needs initiated services. Multivariable multilevel regression analyses revealed several contributors to service-related outcomes, with youths' level of supervision being among the strongest predictors of treatment referral. Conclusions: Community justice agencies appear to follow an approach that focuses identification and linkage practices on concerns other than youths' behavioral health needs, although such needs contribute to reoffending. Local agencies should coordinate efforts to support interagency communication in the referral and cross-system linkage process.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)546-554
Number of pages9
JournalPsychiatric Services
Volume72
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - May 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 American Psychiatric Association. All rights reserved.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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