Note: This measure is by definition a 12-month follow-up of clients, so actual yearly data reports recidivism rate for clients who completed substance abuse education and /or behavioral health treatment programs in the prior year.
Why is this measure important?
National studies indicate that 50-70% of youth entering juvenile justice systems have substance abuse and/or mental health problems. Providing substance abuse and mental health screening, education, and referral to treatment for certain first-time youth offenders and other repeat youth offenders whose offenses are minor will reduce the number of repeat youth offenders and minimize the number of youth referred to Maryland Department of Juvenile Services (DJS) or Maryland Department of Corrections. Diversion proves to help juveniles having contact with the police to avoid more formal involvement in the juvenile justice system and minimizes the justice system’s impacts on the life of the youth offenders. Based on theories and findings from youth diversion programs nationwide, youth having committed relatively petty acts are found to have better outcomes outside of the juvenile justice system. The Screening and Assessment Services for Children and Adolescents (SASCA) Diversion Program provides intensive and comprehensive services including individual, parental and family counseling to the diverted youth group, referrals for mental health and/or addiction education, medication management and treatment. This particular measure of non-recidivism gauges the efficacy and trends of client outcomes of SASCA Diversion Program and informs HHS and its community collaborators of issues and emerging trends in juveniles' legal involvement in Montgomery County.
Factors contributing to current performance
- Fully staffed to include SASCA supervisor expert in Substance Use disorders, bilingual administrative support, and 2 bilingual therapists.
- Doubled grant funding for the Adolescent Substance Abuse Prevention Program (ASAPP). ASAPP staff provided psychoeducational groups on substance abuse prevention and coping skills at the Youthful Offenders Program (Department of Corrections), Rockville City Youth and Family Development Program, and at local high schools and group homes, serving 350 youth and providing 6 community prevention events. ASAPP staff included a high school peer in recovery who revamped the Prevention website to appeal to youth and created marketing materials for a new prevention campaign. ASAPP and clinic staff partnered with Positive Youth Development Street Outreach Network for Summer of Peace events. 50 youth participated in prevention groups through ASAPP, nearly 2,000 individuals were reached through presentations, and about 400,000 were reached through media campaign contacts.
- Used grant funding to fund a contract with Regency Cabs to provide transportation for substance abuse services.
- SASCA formalized its suicide screening program, providing free screening and referral at a local high school monthly and offering the service to additional high schools and middle schools in the county. Of the youth screened, 6 required a safety plan, one was referred for immediate assessment, and 15 were referred for follow up.
- SASCA facilitated an accessible sliding scale with contracted substance abuse provider.
- Mediated agreement between substance abuse treatment provider and Maryland Department of Juvenile Services so that group home youth could access services.
- Facilitated establishment and implementation of a contract between Care for Kids and MRB, a substance abuse treatment agency to provide substance abuse treatment in Spanish for youth that receive Care for Kids.
- Increased outreach and networking, including by attending various public events and visiting schools.
Factors restricting performance improvement
- Barriers such as lack of transportation, language barriers, and payment for substance abuse services have been addressed through grant funding which is not always assured. For example, grant funding for Maryland Department of Juvenile Services (DJS) clients was not renewed for FY19. Transportation to contracted substance abuse programs is especially difficult for down county clients.
- Lack of bilingual staff at substance use treatment agencies.
- High copays and deductibles for insured clients create barriers to SUD treatment.
- Contracted up-county substance abuse provider closed due to new licensure regulations.
- Electronic health records require new templates which are under development to meet Screening and Assessment Services for Children and Adolescents (SASCA) needs.
- Decriminalization of marijuana has directly impacted both youth and parents' willingness to participate in substance abuse treatment.
Performance improvement plan
- Increase access to affordable and accessible adolescent substance abuse services by replacing up-county treatment contract
- Continue to provide staff with monthly data to track progress in treatment and trends in productivity, cancellations, and no shows, and develop data informed strategies
- Having doubled the grant funding for the Adolescent Substance Abuse Program (ASAPP), expand the services provided
- Partner with Public Health, Montgomery County Public Schools, and the Maryland Department of Juvenile Services to provide screening and referral services in the community