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Disrupting School-Justice Pathways for Youth With Behavioral Health Needs

NCJ Number
Date Published
October 2017
32 pages
This technical assistance bulletin provides an overview of the steps for implementing a "School Responder Model" (SRM), which has been shown to reduce the use of arrest for student problem behaviors while at school and increase access to behavioral health services for school-age youth with problem behaviors.
The SRM was developed to address the prevalence of school use of exclusionary school discipline (suspension and expulsion) and police arrests at school for student problem behaviors. The SRM creates a pathway to community-based services in lieu of a youth's involvement in the juvenile justice system, thus addressing a youth's behavioral health needs without requiring a law enforcement response to school infractions that pose a minimal threat to public safety. There are several key components to any SRM. First, a cross-systems team must come together to plan and implement the initiative, as well as monitor its operation. The team should consist of representatives from law enforcement, schools, community behavioral health, family support providers, and families and youth. Second, it is critical to the success of a SRM to foster family and youth participation in the alternative path of behavioral health services, which involves a screening and assessment process and commitment to the services prescribed. Third, all SRMs must develop a behavioral health responder in the school setting. The commitment of school personnel to access behavioral health resources rather than law enforcement personnel is the cornerstone of any SRM. Responder initiatives must be institutionalized through a formal structure for policies and procedures as well as training. The SRMs of Connecticut and Ohio are profiled. 5 figures and 21 references

Date Published: October 1, 2017