Assists and supports the parents and guardians of youth involved in the Harris County Juvenile Probation Department’s specialty courts. Parent Partners work in conjunction with the specialty courts to provide emotional support to parents/guardians who have youth who are exhibiting significant clinical or behavioral symptoms. In addition, they assist the family in finding community resources to meet their family needs, to include mental health services, housing relocation and food, obtaining medical insurance and pro-social activities for their children.
The Harris County SOAR Drug Court is an innovative effort to apply the problem solving court model to a complex social issue. It is presided over by Judge Michelle Moore and Associate Judge Eric Andell of the 314th District Court. The SOAR Court program was created in July 2010, and moves beyond traditional roles and utilizes a collaborative multidisciplinary team modeled after the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention’s (OJJDP) Juvenile Drug Treatment Court (JDTC) Guidelines, to disrupt the patterns of drug use and abuse, which often result in continued involvement in the juvenile justice system. The SOAR Court participants are closely monitored and receive a highly individualized treatment plan. Participants and their families are encouraged to work together to make better choices, improve communication, and to strengthen the family unit. The SOAR Court program is committed to ensure that community resources are available to meet the needs of the youth and family members who are faced with the challenge of substance use. Research reflects that incentives are vital to the JDTC model and are woven throughout the entire program.
The Harris County GRIP Court is an innovative effort to apply the problem solving court model to a complex social issue, presided over by Judge Natalia Oakes and Associate Judge William Thursland of the 313th District Court. The GRIP Court was established in October 2011, and focuses on eliminating delinquent conduct by reducing gang association through increasing pro-social factors, redirecting youth to healthier alternatives, and improving relationships within the family. The GRIP Court participants are closely monitored, and receive individualized treatment plans. Mentoring programs, educational assistance, tattoo removal, relocation assistance, substance abuse and mental health treatment, and other community-based resources are utilized to overcome the challenges of eliminating gang behavior.
Court 360° (also known as Mental Health Court) serves the needs of justice-involved youth at risk for further involvement in the system due to underlying mental health issues. By utilizing a comprehensive, interdisciplinary, and strength-based approach, Court 360° effectively addresses the underlying mental health concerns associated with each youth’s at risk behaviors and related delinquent conduct. Court 360° offers access to specialized services and community resources to youth and their families. Each youth receives a treatment plan focused on individualized needs. Wrap-around services may include psychiatric treatment, individual and family therapy, educational assistance, mentorship and advocacy, and involvement in pro-social and extracurricular activities. Upon successful completion of the Court 360° program, youth may have the opportunity to have their probation case terminated early and their juvenile records sealed.
CARE Court addresses the unique needs of youth who have been involved in or who are at significant risk for involvement in sex trafficking/commercial sexual exploitation. These youth often have significant trauma histories subsequent to their involvement in the juvenile justice system. By utilizing a comprehensive, strength-based approach, the program addresses the underlying trauma associated with each youths’ at-risk behaviors and related delinquent conduct. CARE Court participants are female, male, transgender, and non-binary youth who want to limit further exposure to/involvement in sex trafficking. The multidisciplinary team generates an individualized treatment plan for each participant. By offering intensive supervision, support, mentorship and advocacy, and access to therapeutic and other needed services, the program provides an opportunity for each participant to develop the skills necessary to change the trajectory of their lives. CARE Court provides successful graduates the opportunity to have their probation case terminated early and their juvenile records sealed.
The Forensic Unit conducts psychological and psychiatric assessments of youth involved with the Harris County Juvenile Probation Department. Psychological and psychiatric evaluations of youth are conducted either pre-adjudication or post-adjudication. The evaluations are used to understand the mental health needs of the youth and to help determine placement and treatment needs. In addition, the clinicians also conduct evaluations that are specifically aimed at answering forensic questions related to the court process. This includes evaluations regarding competency to stand trial, lack of responsibility, and waiver of juvenile jurisdiction (when the court is considering transferring the case to the adult court). All of the evaluations that are conducted by the Forensic Unit result in a formal written report that is available to the court and the juvenile probation officers.
Facility Mental Health Services provides mental health services, including individual, group, and family counseling, crisis intervention, specialized programing, and medication management to youth in the post-adjudicated facilities. The Facility Mental Health Services team consists of licensed master level clinicians that provide counseling and crisis intervention for youth while placed in the post-adjudicated facilities of the Harris County Juvenile Probation Department. The psychiatric needs of the residents will also be assessed and monitored with appropriate referrals made for medication management to contracted providers. Facility Mental Health Team provides services through the Behavioral Enrichment Treatment and Accountability (BETA) Program. This program is for young offenders 10-14 years old. Two therapists are specifically dedicated to this unit. The BETA Program also has a field team consisting of two probation officers and two therapists which help the resident transition to the community. This team work approach provides consistency for the child and family. Residents in this program receive individual, family, and group counseling. Residents participate and live in a therapeutic community. This program accepts regionalized youth after successful completion of a screening process for the program.
Multisystemic Therapy (MST) is a unique, goal-oriented, comprehensive treatment program designed to serve multi-problem youth in their community. MST is effective in helping youth with chronic, violent delinquent behavior and youth with serious emotional problems. All interventions are designed in full collaboration with family members and key figures in each of the child’s life -- parents or legal guardians, schoolteachers and principals. MST therapists travel throughout the county providing services in the family home; therapists are on call 24 hours a day to assist with crisis intervention.
Mental health and psychiatric services are provided to residents of the Harris County Juvenile Justice Center. The Psychological and Social Services (PSS) unit provides counseling and crisis intervention services for the youth residing in the Juvenile Justice Center. In addition, a full time psychiatrist, in collaboration with the Baylor College of Medicine, provides evaluations and medication management for any youth needing this treatment while they remain in the facility.
HCPC serves as a therapeutic alternative to detention. Juvenile offenders who show signs of severe and persistent psychiatric symptoms are admitted to a sub-acute hospitalization program at the Harris County Psychiatric Hospital. This program is based on a behavioral management system and there is no set length of stay.
The Medical Department provides high quality; comprehensive, evidence based care for all youths in the custody of Harris County Juvenile Probation Department. The Medical Department provides a number of medical services directly, and through contractual relationships with medical personnel and facilities. Services include, but are not limited to, health screenings, physical examinations; dental and vision services, immunizations, developmental assessments, administration of medication, laboratory and diagnostic tests. In addition, treatment is provided for any identified medical issues. Nursing services are also provided on as needed basis at the Juvenile Justice Alternative Education Program.
The Sex Offender Treatment Program provides evidence-based sex offender treatment to youth adjudicated for sexual offenses who remain in the community. The sex offender community providers are in-house Licensed Sex Offender Treatment Providers (LSOTP) who provide individual, family, and group counseling to juveniles and their families. Sex Offender Risk Assessments are completed by the therapists as ordered by the courts. LSOTPs also work closely with juvenile probation officers in the community to help meet the treatment needs of youth and their families. This type of treatment team approach helps the families feel supported and connected to the services received.
The Harris County Juvenile Probation Department (HCJPD), the Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS) and the Harris County Youth Collective are working together to improve the services and outcomes for the youth dually involved with HCJPD and DFPS. Dual status youth are those involved with the Juvenile Justice system and in the custody of child welfare. The initiative aims to provide early identification, joint case planning, and effective monitoring of such cases. In addition, HCJPD and DFPS meet monthly to collaborate on difficult cases. HCJPD and DFPS each have a designated liaison within their agency. HCJPD is forming a unit that will work these cases from conception to close. DFPS is also working to designate caseworkers to assist with this special population. There is currently 100 identified dual status youth involved in both systems.
The Mental Health Initiatives Unit is a partnership between the Harris Center for Mental Health and IDD and the Harris County Juvenile Probation Department. The unit strives to link youth and families to services and resources to aid in their success while on probation. Services and resources include psychiatric services, counseling, advocacy, transition planning, and follow up in the community. The Mental Health Initiatives Unit partners with other community agencies to ensure ease of services and transition to the community.
Functional Family Therapy (FFT) is an evidence based therapy program, delivered by a team of specially trained clinicians who work intensively with the entire family at every session.
Families typically receive 12-15 weekly sessions in their home, the community or via virtual means.
FFT clinicians use a research based multi-phase intervention process to address behavioral concerns, family conflict, substance use, conduct disorder, anxiety/depression with behavioral disorder symptoms expression, peer group influences and other commonly seen delinquent behaviors.
FFT is built on a foundation of respect for families, individuals and cultures, and includes relational dynamic strategies that reduce crime and victimization while paving the way for families to become more autonomous, adaptive and successful in our communities.