dLCV Public Comment
November 28, 2018
Kristen Peterson, Regulatory Coordinator
Department of Juvenile Justice
PO Box 1110
Richmond, VA 23218-1110
RE: Regulations Governing Mental Health Services Transition Plans for Incarcerated Juveniles
Dear Ms. Peterson,
The disAbility Law Center of Virginia (dLCV), the Commonwealth’s federally mandated protection and advocacy system, respectfully submits the following public comment in relation to the Department of Juvenile Justice’s (DJJ’s) periodic review of its Regulations Governing Mental Health Services Transition Plans for Incarcerated Juveniles (Regulations). We strongly urge DJJ to retain these regulations, with one amendment made to 6VAC35-180-80. (Participants in facility case review).
Currently the Regulations require a juvenile’s “family members, caregivers, legal guardian, or legally authorized representative” to be invited to the facility case review. Additionally, any other person who has a “legitimate interest in the development of the plan for the purpose of providing treatment or services” may be invited to participate in the meeting to develop the plan. However, the Regulations do not allow for family members and caregivers to invite others to the facility case review. Those who are knowledgeable about the juvenile or may have special expertise regarding the juvenile may be able to provide valuable input at the facility case review. For example, a juvenile’s prior service provider would be able to put forth information about a juvenile’s needs in the community setting. Such needs may be different than their current needs during incarceration. dLCV urges DJJ to amend the Regulations regarding facility case reviews to allow “others who are knowledgeable about the juvenile or may have special expertise regarding the juvenile” to be invited to the facility case review either by the facility or by the juvenile’s family members, care givers, legal guardian, or legally authorized representative.
dLCV is in support of retaining these Regulations. Accessing mental health services in Virginia can be difficult and complicated. While many resources exist, they are siloed, and require interface with various agencies. Families often do not know what resources are available or how to access them. Even when a family connects with one state agency, that agency many not have knowledge of what services other agencies offer. Mental health services transition planning provides a forum for people who are familiar with a juvenile’s case and those who know what resources are available, to identify needs, services that will meet those needs, and sources of funding for those services.
dLCV applauds the Regulations’ focus on creating timelines that are sufficient to “ensure continuity” of treatment and services. Gaps in provision of medications and services can lead to detrimental health effects and put individuals at risk of crisis. Continuity of services is especially crucial during a juvenile’s transition back to the community, which can be an emotionally challenging time. Measures such as timely filing of applications and assigning case management responsibilities helps to reduce the risk of medication or service gaps.
The current Regulations require that the team develop a comprehensive plan for juveniles in need of mental health services transition planning. This includes identifying sources of funding and applications that will need to be submitted for services and funding. Understanding the service needs of an induvial is not on its own sufficient. The Regulations recognize this and work to ensure that children will be connected to and receive services upon release.
Provision of proper mental health services can drastically improve the quality of life for an individual. In addition, such services can help reduce rates of recidivism and more costly crisis interventions. The Regulations’ proactive approach improves a juvenile’s access to these vital services.
DJJ should retain the Regulations Governing Mental Health Services Transition Plans for Incarcerated Juveniles, but amend them to allow others to participate in the facility case review. Thank you for your thoughtful consideration of dLCV’s public comment.