Aftercare for Youth with Mental Health Disorders in the Juvenile Justice System: An Assessment of the Aftercare Program of Williamson County Juvenile Services
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Purpose: The purpose of this study is first to describe the ideal characteristics of an effective mental health aftercare program based on a review of the literature. The second purpose is to conduct a case study and assess the aftercare program in Williamson County, Texas using the ideal characteristics. Finally, recommendations that should assist all juvenile probation departments in Texas more effectively to supervise youth with mental health needs are developed. Methodology: The methodologies used in this case study of Williamson County Juvenile Services include structured interviews, document analysis and archival data analysis. Document analysis was conducted using the County's policy and procedure manual and archival data such as case plans and chronological notes were used as a supplemental data collection method as well. A systematic sample of archival data was conducted of 21 youth randomly selected from a total of 103 youth sent to or released from post-adjudication facilities in Williamson County, during 2004 - 2005. Results: Overall, the Aftercare Program in Williamson County adheres to the practical ideal type model developed through the literature, but could improve services by: providing set guidelines in Policy and Procedure, providing specialized training for Aftercare Officers, developing a specialized Aftercare Team, and providing staff development through ongoing training and evaluation.