The Department is committed to ensuring that the health and mental health needs of residents are met in a timely, appropriate manner. Residents in detention receive medical and mental health services both in DJJ’s Health Services Units and at local hospitals and clinics.
Upon entering the custody of DJJ, youth are assessed for any medical, dental, mental health or substance-related issues to determine if there are any pressing conditions or needs, including medication. Parents and guardians are encouraged to share relevant medical and mental health information with DJJ’s medical staff to assist with continuity of care. Staff reach out to parents and guardians for consent for treatment in the first day of a youth’s admission.
Within three days of admission, a comprehensive medical history and physical examination are completed. Treatment plans are developed for identified or known medical issues. Residents are treated either onsite by clinical staff, or through local hospitals and clinics and the NYC Health and Hospitals Corporation (HHC). The health status of the residents is regularly monitored. In addition to an admission screen, youth receive a dental examination and services within five days of admission. Medical staff are available to educate youth about chronic or acute illnesses, STDs, and health promotion.
Mental Health Services
Upon admission youth are screened for current and pre-existing mental health conditions. In addition, the mental health provider administers a standard mental health assessment tool. If a child has been identified by staff, parents/guardians, or through assessment as having a mental health need, a mental health clinician and/or psychiatrist are available. Clinicians see residents both in group and individual sessions. The psychiatrist sees those residents who may need medication or have a more serious mental health need. The psychiatrist and clinicians monitor youth on medication.
Substance Abuse Services
DJJ has an innovative substance abuse treatment program, Adolescent Portable Therapy (APT), which is run by the Vera Institute of Justice. Youth are assessed for substance use upon entering detention. Those youth that indicate substance use are later given a full assessment in order to determine if treatment is appropriate. If they qualify and are interested in participating, an APT therapist works with the youth and family throughout a young person's stay in detention. The same therapist follows the young person wherever s/he may go after detention, be it a long-term facility operated by the State Office of Children and Family Services, or the community.