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Mental Health Support for Youth at Our Residential Services Unit

Disruptive Innovations

Who We Serve

Brad, a fourteen-year-old child with charges for theft and marijuana possession is arrested and taken into custody.  In Bucks County, this means a stay at the Bucks County Youth Center (BCYC). Once in the BCYC, the child starts to show signs of depression and possible suicidality. He makes superficial scratches on his arms and is reluctant to eat. While the staff at BCYC are trained in managing the behaviors of the various residents in their facility, this child is in need of specialized treatment. Luckily, Lenape Valley Foundation (LVF) and the BCYC have formed a collaborative relationship to serve residents such as Brad.

How We Serve

In 2013, the BCYC and LVF began working together to serve the behavioral health needs of residents in both the Detention Center and the Residential Services Unit (a public, twenty-bed, residential program for adjudicated delinquents under the jurisdiction of the Bucks County Court of Common Pleas, Juvenile Division). This collaboration has evolved into a full complement of behavioral health services for residents including: psychiatric evaluation and medication management, individual, group and family therapy, psychoeducation, and supportive counseling. Upon discharge from the BCYC, LVF continues to provide services such as Outpatient Psychiatry, Therapy, Blended Case Management, and Behavioral Health Rehabilitation Services (BHRS).   

Collaboration between BCYC and LVF has spread to include cross-training between the two organizations. In typical outpatient therapy, terms such as “criminogenic needs” and “recidivism” are not often used. However, the collaboration has expanded the knowledge base of LVF therapists to include concepts such as these and integrate them into the goals for therapy. BCYC staff now have an enhanced knowledge of serious and persistent mental illness, suicide risk assessment, and behavioral health services available in the community.



What was the outcome for Brad? While in the BCYC, he received individual, group, and family therapy, and group treatment for co-occurring issues (drug and alcohol as well as mental health). He had a psychiatric evaluation and was linked to services that followed him from the BCYC to home. Upon discharge from BCYC, Brad dealt with some of the trauma issues that led to his marijuana use and developed coping skills to manage his environment.

Brad’s success is not uncommon. In 2015, the RSU/LVF behavioral health collaboration was evaluated by BCJPO and the Evidence-based Prevention and Intervention Support Centers at Penn State University (EPISCenters) using the Standard Program Evaluation Protocol (SPEP). The purpose of the evaluation was to determine if the RSU/LVF collaboration is:  1.) treating youth in appropriate risk categories, 2.) targeting specific criminogenic needs with appropriate evidence-based interventions, 3.) placed in the County’s juvenile justice system matrix to address adjudicated youth with specific criminogenic needs, and 4.) a program having a positive impact on recidivism reduction. On January 23, 2017, the RSU/LVF completed the SPEP Performance Improvement Plan (PIP) with BCJPO and the EPISCenters in order to optimize the effectiveness of the program. The SPEP process determined that the collaborative work between the BCYC and LVF is meeting all of these goals, and most importantly, is reducing recidivism among youth participating in the program!

The Future

Lenape Valley Foundation continually seeks impactful ways to serve RSU residents with evidence-based programming. In fact, LVF just secured funding to implement an evidence-based gambling intervention program over the course of the next two years for RSU residents. The two organizations have more ideas of ways to collaborate and improve interventions for residents as well as education for staff. Together we will continue to build on this success.

New Partnership with Penn Praxis - Penn Design - University of Pennsylvania

Issue 39 | Disruptive Innovations