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: Bexar County Continuum of Care to Support Youth Success

Award Information

Award #
Funding Category
Competitive Discretionary
Congressional District
Funding First Awarded
Total funding (to date)

Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2023, $450,000)

Bexar County Juvenile Probation Department, in partnership with Meadows Mental Health Policy Institute, seeks to reduce over-incarceration and racial disproportionality in the juvenile justice system by strengthening community-based systems of support for youth. Together, they aim to co-create an equitable continuum of care capable of meeting youth needs compassionately within their own communities.

During this three-phase, intensive 18-month project, the collaborative will assess current resources, identify critical service gaps, and develop an integrated continuum of care to meet the needs of youth upstream before justice involvement. Using the evidence-based Sequential Intercept Model (SIM), diverse partners will map assets, decision points, and policy levers across systems (e.g., school discipline, behavioral health, child welfare, justice, law enforcement). The SIM provides a framework for identifying points along a youth’s path to incarceration where positive intervention could divert them to better outcomes.

Fundamental to the success of this project are youth and family partnership, building grassroots organizational capacity, and cultivating a racial healing approach to care. The American Indians in Texas at the Spanish Colonial Missions (AIT) will ensure these approaches as a crucial project partner, tapping into its network of grassroots organizations operating in communities most impacted by the justice system to facilitate culturally relevant and thoughtful community engagement efforts. In-depth listening sessions led by AIT using their healing informed La Cultural Cura model will center the voices of those most impacted, empowering youth and families to shape solutions tailored to their lived experiences. 

A Community Planning Council of cross-sector stakeholders will guide assessment activities and oversee development of the continuum of care. Their leadership, coupled with research on evidence-based alternatives, will produce practical strategies tailored to the unique assets and challenges of Bexar County neighborhoods.

The project team will produce a comprehensive Community Plan, with an Asset Map, Gap Analysis Report, Continuum of Care Design, and Implementation Roadmap, along with proposals for sustaining the effort. The plan will offer recommendations for expanding effective, culturally-relevant services to vulnerable youth earlier, and determine where cost savings can be achieved – be it through a lower daily population of children in detention or out-of-home placement, an increase in youth diverted from juvenile probation services, or a decrease in youth arrested. This community-focused process will enhance capacity to meet the holistic needs of youth equitably and surround youth with compassion, transforming young lives by nurturing their humanity and potential.

Date Created: February 16, 2024