Abstract: Screening, Service Provision, and Information Sharing Practices (Society for Social Work and Research 27th Annual Conference - Social Work Science and Complex Problems: Battling Inequities + Building Solutions)

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532P Screening, Service Provision, and Information Sharing Practices

Saturday, January 14, 2023
Phoenix C, 3rd Level (Sheraton Phoenix Downtown)
* noted as presenting author
Daniel Applegarth, MSW, Ph.D. Student, University of California, Los Angeles, CA
Benjamin Adams, M.S., Senior Advisor, National Institute of Justice, DC
Background and Purpose: Research has documented that youth within juvenile justice facilities have complex service needs in areas of education, mental health, and substance use. Existing evidence suggests the juvenile justice system often falls short in meeting these needs. Prior studies have documented facilities struggle to provide adequate screening and service provision for youth during detainment and placement. Additionally, limited research has examined the information sharing practices of facilities upon youths' departure. Having established and coordinated information sharing practices is critical to ensuring appropriate community services are provided, youth receive sufficient support, continuity of care occurs, and caregivers are fully informed about the youth’s current needs. On a national level, this study examines screening and service provision during youths’ stay, and information sharing practices for youth upon departure of juvenile facilities.

Methods: Using data from the Juvenile Residential Facility Census from 2010-2018, facilities responses for items examining screening and service provision during a youth's stay, and information sharing practices upon youths' departure for education, mental health, and substance abuse were examined. Responses were examined across all reporting facilities, by facility type (i.e., training school, detention center, residential treatment center, group home, and shelters), and by facility operator (i.e., state, local, private).

Results: From 2010-2018 the proportion of reporting facilities that indicated all youth under their care were evaluated for educational needs was between 86.8%-88.4%, 56.7% - 63.4% did so for mental health needs, 89.5%-94.6% for suicidality, and 70.2%-75.2% evaluated all youth for substance abuse. In 2018, 99.4% of reporting facilities reported that at least some youth receive educational services, 93.3% provided mental health therapy to some youth, 97.3% provided mental health prescriptions to some youth, and 77.7% provided some youth with substance abuse treatment. However, when examining how many facilities provided services for all youth, the proportions were noticeably lower. For information sharing practices, youths’ education status and needs were most likely to be shared at departure with the new placement or legal caregiver. The differences in the frequency of sharing information for youths’ education, mental health, and substance abuse status upon departure appear small when examining if facilities report this information for at least some youth, with 90% or more of facilities doing so for all domains. However, larger differences are observed when looking at the percentage of facilities that share this information for all youth; with education decreasing to near 80% and mental health and substance abuse dropping below 70%. Additionally, some variation was seen in screening, treatment provision, and information sharing by facility type.

Implications: Results suggest a need to improve practices across the board. Deepening our understanding of why, when, and how facilities share information about youth with other stakeholders and identifying the gaps that exist is important for informing strategies that better target youths' needs with appropriate and coordinated services. Early identification of needs, the provision of quality services, and comprehensive information sharing are all critical to preventing further system involvement and promoting positive outcomes for youth in placement.