Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2014, $600,000)
OJJDP is partnering with the Department of Education and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) to implement a multidisciplinary initiative to improve school climates, respond early and appropriately to student mental health and behavioral needs, avoid referring students to law enforcement and juvenile justice as a disciplinary response, and facilitate a proactive and supportive school reentry process in the rare instances in which a youth is referred. This is part of a larger effort to enhance collaboration and coordination among schools, mental and behavioral health specialists, law enforcement, and juvenile justice officials at the state and local levels and ensure adults have the support, training, and a shared framework to help students succeed in school and prevent negative outcomes. This program is authorized pursuant to paragraph (3)(D) under the Juvenile Justice heading in the Department of Justice Appropriations Act, 2014, P.L. 113-76, 128 Stat. 5, 64-65.
The Court will establish school-based truancy court hearings in six high-risk middle schools with the goal of reducing truancy. Program objectives are to: 1) deliver assistance and treatment for students and their families; 2) help participating youth transition to high school; 3) divert 165 students from court; 4) evaluate the program for effectiveness; 5) use motivational, developmentally appropriate and client-centered strategies; 6) implement behavioral health screens that also identify trauma; 7) connect 75% of youth identified as needing mental health services to treatment; 8) utilize Check & Connect mentoring; 9) meaningfully engage families; 10) prevent contact with justice system for a delinquency or truancy action; and 11) lower school-based referrals to the juvenile justice system among African-American and Exceptional Student Education youth.
Pinellas County and the Courts are partnering with the Pinellas County School System, the State Attorney's Office, St. Petersburg Police Department, Pinellas County Sheriff, and Largo Police Department. They are also partnering with a case management provider, Family Resources; an evaluator, Prismatic Services; and two behavioral health providers, Directions for Living and Suncoast Center.