When the taxpayers of Seneca County voted in a new tax in 2008 for mental health and substance abuse services, the board's campaign promise was to share how levy funds were used from 2009 through 2013. So far, you've read about crisis intervention training, suicide prevention and LifeSkills. Let's talk about mental illness, alcohol and drugs, and the impact they have on families, and how the juvenile court in Seneca County is making a difference in this corner of our world.
Family Intervention Court is a specialized docket that focuses on serving high-risk youth and their families in a collaborative, therapeutic way. The court coordinator monitors the youth and families, ensuring that court orders, therapy requirements, school obligations and rules at home are met. The court coordinator also meets regularly with youth and their families, the provider of therapeutic services, school officials and other entities in the youth's life to gauge progress.
Research shows that youth who have a supportive and stable parent/caregiver have a better chance of success, not only in the court program, but in life. Families are given the necessary information, training and support throughout the period of the youth's involvement with the juvenile justice system.
The judge places emphasis on the mental health and/or substance abuse needs of the parent/caregiver, which means he/she is required to be assessed for mental health and/or substance abuse issues and follow-up according to the recommendations of the assessment. Because of the intensive family-focused approach, each case is individualized to meet specific needs of the student and family.
Since its inception in 2009, 38 individuals have benefitted from the intensive services the program provides. We say 38 individuals, because this refers specifically to the student directly involved in the program. However, Family Intervention Court also impacts siblings who see the negative consequences and the positive outcomes, (which may influence their decisions) and they have the opportunity not to make risky decisions.
If you would like more information, please call the Mental Health and Recovery Services Board of Seneca, Sandusky and Wyandot Counties at (419) 448-0640. The board's office hours are 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. weekdays.