Mental health treatment for juveniles
Preventing violence with treatment
About 70% of cases that come through Caddo Parish Juvenile Services involve a child with a mental illness. Forty percent involve serious mental illnesses.
Tucked beside the Caddo Parish Health Unit is one of the area's most crucial resources when it comes to helping juveniles: the Mental Health Assessment Center. However, the doors will soon permanently close due to state budget cuts.
"Our Mental Health Assessment Center is funded by a grant from the Department of Health and Hospitals and that grant is being cut," says Clay Walker, Director of Caddo Parish Juvenile Services. "Come June 30th of this year, there will no longer be any funding for that."
The operation uses about $250,000 of the Juvenile System's $6 million budget, yet is the system's second biggest program.
Open since 2009, the organization sees more than 200 kids a year and offers mental health assessments.
"Being in this program give them a chance to understand the law to sometimes understand themselves," says Phillip Martinez, probation officer.
Once the assessment center closes, Juvenile Services will go back to their previous method of handling these cases. They'll rely on local psychiatrists and psychologists. Turn around time will be slower. Jail stays will be longer.
"It was guess work and the guess work was not done by a clinician," says Laura Alderman, mental health coordinator. "It was done by a judge or probation officer who are all good, caring people, but may not have that type of expertise."
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