Some of the most critical sections of TYC's Sunset Commission staff report (pdf) relate to shortcomings in the agency's treatment programs. Although these criticisms were described as part of a recommendation to merge the agency with the Juvenile Probation Commission, I'm not sure exactly how either merging the agencies or shifting some of the kids to county control will directly improve limited treatment access or low success rates. Even so, by the measures Sunset staff looked at, TYC's treatment programs - both general and specialized - can only be described as a colossal failure:
TYC cannot ensure that youth with identified needs receive treatment or that treatment programs are effective. The Youth Commission identifi es more youth in need of specialized treatment programs than it serves, as shown in the chart, TYC Specialized Treatment Enrollment and Completion. For example, of the 284 youth TYC identified as in need of sexual behavior treatment programming in fiscal year 2007, only 46 percent were enrolled in such a program.A chart on page 17 of the report informs us that while 71% of TYC inmates who need chemical dependency treatment get it, that number drops to 32% for offenders with mental health needs.
Furthermore, only 50 percent of the youth enrolled that year completed the program. Despite the documented need for more treatment, in fi scal year 2008, the agency only used 61 percent of its specialized treatment budget. TYC received funding for an average daily population (ADP) of 934 specialized treatment beds, and only served an ADP of 571 youth, leaving 363 treatment beds vacant. While the agency explains this as a result of its reduced population, staffi ng vacancies, and closed facilities, failure to use these beds meant that youth in need went untreated.
Internal policies and practices may contribute to low enrollment and completion rates for specialized treatment. Youth identifi ed with multiple treatment needs typically only receive residential treatment for one of their needs. TYC’s case management standards require youth to be removed from some treatment programs for behavioral problems or failure to progress, which may prevent the most troubled youth from receiving treatment.
The Youth Commission’s specialized programs show low success rates, and the general treatment program cannot be evaluated yet. Recidivism data for these specialized treatment programs has not always supported the programs’ effectiveness. For example, in 2007 youth who completed sexual behavior treatment had higher recidivism rates than youth who did not complete treatment. TYC notes that it has recently adopted a new, research-based chemical dependency curriculum that it hopes will be more effective, but its impact cannot yet be shown. (pp. 16-17)