The Integrated System of Care Family Advocacy Demonstration Programs for Mental Health Juvenile Justice Populations (C.R.S. 27-69-101, et seq.) began in 2007 through H.B. 07-1057. This legislation authorized funding to implement and evaluate family advocacy demonstration programs designed to help families of youth with mental health and co-occurring challenges in, or at-risk of involvement with, the juvenile justice system.
Programs were developed or strengthened in urban (Denver), suburban (Jefferson County), and rural (Montrose County) communities to assist families in accessing necessary services and supports in order to divert them from further involvement in juvenile justice and to improve outcomes for them and the communities in which they were located. In partnership with community agencies, required services offered through the local programs included: 1) systems navigation, 2) crisis response, 3) integrated planning, 4) diversion from the juvenile justice system, 5) family support and education groups, and 6) family advocacy and community training.
The communities selected through a request for proposals were Denver (urban), Jefferson County (suburban), and Montrose County (rural). Partner organizations were:
The three programs were evaluated by the Division of Criminal Justice as required by the legislation. Although many promising practices and outcomes were identified, the evaluation was inconclusive on the question of whether there were significant changes in factors related to juvenile justice, due to issues such as a lack of control groups and difficulties in data collection,. Qualitatively, comments from parents and youth that worked with family advocates were very positive and indicated the advocates provided invaluable help in many life domains. Further, the evaluation pointed out many constructive recommendations for how the program could be improved. H.B. 07-1057 was repealed July 1, 2011.
In 2011, H.B. 11-1193 (C.R.S. 27-69-101, et seq.) was signed into law requiring the Office of Behavioral Health to establish rules and standards for family advocacy programs, and provide technical assistance to communities wishing to develop family advocacy programs.
Whether you're a family or youth advocate or system professional you will find valuable information in the online Toolkit regarding juvenile justice, mental health, and substance use. Funding for the Toolkit was provided by the Colorado Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Council. The material was compiled by the Federation of Families for Children's Mental Health-Colorado Chapter in collaboration with the Juvenile Justice/Mental Health Subcommittee. Explore this excellent new resource through: www.coloradofederation.org/toolkit