Juvenile Corrections System Acts as Mental Health Provider of Last Resort for Many Texas FamiliesPanelists at Thursday Capitol Summit on Mental Health and Juvenile Justice will explore the issueAUSTIN – A Texas parent who resorted to turning her mentally ill son over to the Texas Youth Commission so he could get treatment and the mother of a Texas child with disabilities, incarcerated from ages 10-15, for a misdemeanor are among the families whose stories will be shared at a special Texas Summit on Mental Health and Juvenile Justice Thursday. Family members will be joined by national policy experts, advocates for children and state leaders and their staff for a Capitol discussion about the connection between shortages of children’s mental health services and incidences of juvenile delinquency in Texas.“Providing more children and youth with reliable access to mental health care, not only can prevent crime in Texas, it also gives more of our kids the chance to be successful,” said Eileen Garcia, executive director of Texans Care for Children, the nonprofit child advocacy organization hosting the summit. “By connecting youth who need treatment to community-based services, we can prevent many kids from acting out in the first place – and we can reverse a trend that now has more kids in Texas than any other state growing up to enter prison, instead of the workforce.”The Summit, whose partners include Methodist Healthcare Ministries and Texas Mental Health Juvenile Justice Action Network, involves first-hand family stories and policy discussions about:
- The juvenile justice system acts as the de facto mental health delivery system for Texas, and several experts believe this trend is on the rise. Fewer than one in five Texas children diagnosed with a mental illness, serious emotional disturbance, or other condition that puts them at risk of being removed from their home or school actually receives mental health treatment. More than 40 percent of youth involved with the state’s juvenile probation system are mentally ill. In the Texas Youth Commission, a third of all inmates have a serious mental health problem, and not all receive treatment. For example, fewer than half of TYC youth in need of substance abuse treatment receive it.
- Texas ranks 49th in the country in per capita spending on mental health treatment and suffers shortages of mental health providers in two-thirds of its counties. Nationwide, mental health experts say the juvenile justice system is seeing its worst crisis in decades, as few health plans offer coverage for mental health services for children, states cut back on funding for community-based mental health programs due to budget shortfalls, and the number of specialists able to provide mental health services to youth declines.“All these factors are converging to suggest Texas should act right now to meet mental health challenges head-on at the time when interventions often matter most – early in life,” Garcia said. “We are pleased that the 81st Texas Legislature took steps to close loopholes that prevented some juveniles from getting mental health services they need. The next step must be ensuring services for all youth with mental illnesses, including those in the juvenile justice system today and those we can prevent from entering it in the first place.”
Thursday, January 28, 2010
Busy day at capitol on juvie, women's corrections
Regrettably, I won't be able to attend two events at the capitol today that look really interesting: the House Corrections Committee meeting this morning on women and corrections and the juvie justice summit going on simultaneously at the capitol. Thankfully, both will be broadcast online and archived, so I'll try to watch them soon. You can watch the Corrections Committee live here beginning at 9 a.m., and the juvie justice summit will be streamed online here.
I received this press release this morning from Texans Care for Children, the group holding the juvie justice summit: