It is now well established that the vast majority of youth in the juvenile justice system, approximately 70%, suffer from mental disorders, with 25% experiencing disorders so severe that their ability to function is significantly impaired. For some youth, contact with the juvenile justice system is often their first and only chance to get help. For others, it is the last resort after being bounced from one system to another. Frustrated juvenile justice administrators and mental health professionals are struggling to take action, yet little progress has been made due, at least in part, to the fact that there has been a lack of information available about how best to respond to these youth.
The Blueprint for Change fills this gap.In 2001, the federal Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) provided funding to the National Center for Mental Health and Juvenile Justice to develop a Comprehensive Model that would provide guidance to the field to help them address this problem. The Model was developed in partnership with the Council of Juvenile Correctional Administrators (CJCA), with guidance from an advisory group of key national experts, and revised by a panel of mental health and juvenile justice administrators, practitioners, advocates and youth. Even though the Blueprint has not received final approval from OJJDP, because of the critical need for this information in the field, the Center has received permission from OJJDP to release the final draft.
The result of this effort is the Blueprint for Change, which provides a practical framework for juvenile justice and mental health systems to use when developing policies and programs aimed at improving mental health services for youth in the juvenile justice system. It sets the highest goals for systems to work towards, summarizing what is known about the best way to identify and treat mental disorders among youth in the juvenile justice system, and offering recommendations, guidelines and examples for how best to do this. The Blueprint for Change can be accessed by clicking on the following links, or by navigating the Conceptual Framework below.
Full Report PDF
Appendix B: Youth with mental health disorders: Results from a multi-state, multi-system prevalence study PDF
Research and Program Brief A Blueprint for Change: Improving the System Response to Youth with Mental Health Needs Involved with the Juvenile Justice System. PDF
Click on any of the components below to navigate the Blueprint
This includes background information, the purpose and organization of the Blueprint, a review of the development process, its target audience and key features.
Critical Intervention Points
This includes the point at which a youth is referred by law enforcement to juvenile court. Often, the juvenile court intake function is the responsibility of the local probation department.