A Colorado Juvenile Assessment Center Partnerships with Law Enforcement, Schools and Child Welfare Systems: The Impact on at-Risk Youth

The Juvenile Assessment Center (JAC) serves as a first point of contact for youth ages 6 – 18 with behavior concerns in the largest judicial district in Colorado.  Youth who are arrested on criminal charges, runaways, youth deemed beyond the control of parent or school, youth having behaviors problems in the classroom, truant or at-risk of suspension/expulsion are ALL reasons why youth are transported or referred to the JAC.  The Juvenile Assessment Center staff work to identify underlying causes of behavior, recommend holistic services including mental health and substance use treatment, prosocial activities, etc., ensure access to those services and communicate with involved systems/stakeholders.  The result:  youth and families receiving support services earlier; systems have more understanding of the whole child and family (not just symptoms) and, in turn, can make more informed decisions; law enforcement time saved by alleviating responsibility of coordinating releases; and more coordination between various law enforcement, judicial, child welfare, etc.