The state was recently awarded a federal Transformation Transfer Initiative (TTI) grant of $221,000 that will be used by the Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services (TDMHSAS) to expand the juvenile court screening project, which will be led by Dr. Jeff Feix, Director of the Office of Forensic and Juvenile Court Services with TDMHSAS.
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) and its Center for Mental Health Services (CMHS) created the Transformation Transfer Initiative (TTI) to assist states in transforming their behavioral health systems of care. For fiscal year 2013, CMHS has awarded TTI grants of $221,000 to eleven (11) states or territories to “identify, adopt, and strengthen transformative initiatives and activities that can be implemented in the state, either through a new initiative or expansion of one already under way, and can focus on one or multiple phases of system change.”
The TDMHSAS envisions using the funding it will receive “to continue the transformation of juvenile court services by expanding the use of screening for mental health, substance abuse and family service needs of youth referred to juvenile courts as unruly or delinquent, provide family-peer support services to the families of these youth, and increase the use of evidence-based therapeutic practices for the juvenile justice population.”
Among the strategies outlined in the application by the TDMHSAS are to:
- Provide training and technical assistance to youth service officers, Department of Children’s Services (DCS) court liaisons, and court administrators;
- Provide screening outcomes to DCS court liaisons for referral to evidence-based therapeutic services;
- Establish Family Support Providers to assist the families of youth in juvenile courts who are identified as having behavioral health needs to negotiate the human services providers network;
- Provide training and technical assistance to juvenile court judges and attorneys in the use of the screening process and Family Support Services.
The Tennessee Integrated Court Screening and Referral Project (TICSRP) is supported by a multi-agency collaboration including the TDMHSAS, DCS, the Administrative Office of the Courts (AOC), the Vanderbilt University Center of Excellence (VUCOE), the Tennessee Commission on Children and Youth (TCCY), and Tennessee Voices for Children (TVC). This multi-agency collaboration began in 2007 with efforts to transform the provision of juvenile-court-ordered mental health evaluations from highly restrictive, stigmatizing and expensive inpatient services to community-based outpatient services.
Between August 2010 and July 2012, 2,678 juveniles had been screened in the TICSRP across ten (10) counties, resulting in almost 1,400 referrals for mental health, substance abuse, and/or family services. Those counties are Dickson, Hawkins, Lawrence, Macon, Madison, McNairy, Morgan, Obion, Sevier, and Washington. (Note that McNairy, Obion, and Sevier counties no longer take part in this program). The new grant will allow expansion of this program to as-yet-undetermined counties.