Through a contract with the New York City Administration for Children Services, Division of Youth and Family Justice, ARTC employs masters level social workers to provide mental health screenings, as well as both individual and group counseling services to detained adolescents currently involved in the juvenile justice system. The services are provided to youth in two secure detention facilities; one located in the Bronx that services Bronx and Manhattan youth and the other located in Brooklyn for Queens, Brooklyn, and Staten Island youth. In addition, we have 14 non-secure settings. The population is 85% male, 15% female and average age ranges from 12-16; but we have had individuals as young as 9 and up to age 20. Research studies show that 70% of juveniles that enter the juvenile justice system meet the diagnostic criteria for a mental health disorder. The program not only provides continuity of care for those youths already involved with the mental health system, but we also identify previously undiagnosed mental illness in many adolescents. The goal is to build on strengths, to meet needs, and improve the overall functioning of the adolescents, not only while in NYC care, but to build on for their lifetimes.
On average, approximately 4000 youth are detained in NYC each year, and of those, half will meet the requirement of being “in Care”, which is a stay in a detention facility for 5 or more days. Of these youth that meet the criteria, the mental health team will screen to identify any needs or deficiencies with alcohol/substance abuse or use, depression, anxiety, issues with anger and/or aggression, somatic complaints, thought disturbance, suicidal and/or homicidal ideation, and traumatic experiences. In addition, the youth’s previous history with mental health is collected, if any, as well as family history/ background. Overall functioning is assessed in areas such as home and school to determine what services, if any, the youth may require during their time in detention. Approximately 80% of youth at this time will meet the requirements for follow-up services, either due to difficulty adjusting to detention, mental illness and/or substance abuse, as well as traumatic experience, which more than 65% will have been identified to have experienced.
All youth identified in need of service are seen for individual counseling by Masters level clinicians using a variety of treatment modalities, including but not limited to Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Dialectical Behavioral Therapy, Solution Focused Therapy, Social Skills Training, Anger Management, Supportive Counseling, and if deemed necessary, referral to a psychiatrist for evaluation and medication management. In addition, all youth including those not identified in need of mental health services receive group counseling on varied topics including, but not limited to Stress Management, Decision Making, Violence Awareness, Substance Use Education, Grief and Loss Management, and Depression Management. All youths receiving services receive individualized treatment plans with attainable and realistic goals for short term therapy. Once again, our goal is for the youth to learn the skills necessary to successfully manage their mental health symptoms and behaviors, and improve their functioning in all life spheres, including academic, social/peer relationships, family, and recreation.
In addition, the mental health program also runs two Special Support Dorms, one for males and one for females in which the residents receive more intensive services, including individual counseling twice a week and group counseling five days a week Youth in these programs have been identified as needing more extensive individualized treatment in a smaller setting. They are referred and must be accepted; and the goal is graduation from the program, which includes successful movement to a larger setting.
As our services are provided in a detention facility, the majority of our work is short-term treatment. On average most youth are in both secure and non-secure detention anywhere from a few days to a month; some are here for a few months to years depending on their legal situation. Unfortunately, many of the youth return to detention time and time again as they are released back into communities that are not equipped to meet their needs. Most need follow up services with mental health counseling and psychiatry to continue medication treatment, but have difficulty finding programs and services to meet their needs. Or they have appointments for follow up services scheduled months away due to lack of availability, which often leads to the youth re-offending. In addition, many youth have substance abuse problems that need to be addressed, but are either not referred for services or are in programs that do not successfully address the needs of the adolescent population. This results in violation of probation when they testpositive for substance use. As seen at many of the adult prisons, the adolescent detention facilities have what feels like a revolving door.
In addition, due to the nature of our setting, there is little to no family work done. While family contact is made by the mental health program to notify families of services and to collect collateral information, the detention setting inhibits the ability to do family work crucial to adolescent treatment. Without parent education and collaboration, most of the hard work done with the youth is lost upon their return home, unless services are continued in the community with the families. Also, while being serviced in the communities as opposed to detention facilities, it will give the adolescent the opportunity to utilize the skills as they learn them. This will foster the learning experience that will resonate with the youth. As a part of ARTC, the extension of services for both adolescent mental health and substance abuse services in the community could ensure the continuity of care through the sharing of resources, information, and treatment. This would allow for easier transition and progress. In turn, with more community resources the recidivism rates should drop, which in turn will diminish many youth growing up in detention facilities only to graduate to adult prisons.
- Horizon Juvenile Center
560 Brook Avenue
Bronx, NY 10465
Contact Person: Mental Health Supervisor Kim Weiderhold, MSW
(718) 401- 3084
- Crossroads Juvenile Center
17 Bristol Street
Brooklyn, NY 11212
Contact Person: Mental health Supervisor Jessica Vogel, LMSW