Troubled teens in Arkansas getting better treatment thanks to program changes, state says

Local News

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – The state says it’s seeing a more efficient approach to treatment pay off for troubled teens.

The Arkansas Department of Human Services (DHS) says improvements made in January within its Division of Youth Services (DYS) are reaping rewards.

DYS adopted a more hands-on approach to getting children in their system the help and resources they needed. Director of DYS Michael Crump said, “We would see bottle necking at the beginning, bottlenecks in the middle and bottlenecks at the end so really having a treatment team in place and an increased number of monitoring visits that go in it allows things to run more efficiently from beginning to the end.”

DYS is using a lot more robust assessment of teens in order to individualize their treatments. The assessment includes:

  • Physical
  • Psychological/psychiatric
  • Psychosexual assessment (sex offender)
  • Trauma/PTSD/Adverse Childhood Experience
  • Education
  • UCLA Child/Adolescent PTSD Reaction Index for DSM-5
  • Individualized Education Plan
  • 504 Specialized Education Plan
  • Dyslexia assessment
  • Substance abuse assessment
  • Dental
  • Vision

As a result, significantly fewer kids are entering juvenile detention centers and residential programs, DHS says. Since before May 2019 there were as many as 73 youth in county-run juvenile detention centers and as of February 3 that number is down to six. The number of youth in a DYS residential program is also down 33% from 352 before May 2019 to 235 as of February 3.

DYS says the next phase to emphasize following up on juveniles after they leave a residential program. “We want increased supervision from DYS, a little more response back and involvement from community-based providers to let us know what’s going on and then we can reconvene with clinicians we have on staff to be able to address kids once they’ve left our custody,” says Crump.

Click here to read more about the changes in youth treatment in Arkansas.

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