LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – Less children are being committed to state facilities, according to new data provided by the director of the Division of Youth Services.
According to a fourth quarter report from 2019, 81 kids were committed to a Division of Youth Services facility. During the fourth quarters of 2018 and 2017, the total numbers were 101 and 121, respectively.
Director Michael Crump attributes some of that to new, individualized training that has been established recently thanks to a risk-assessment tool that came from the courts.
“I really think they’re doing a better job of using that tool to decide whether or not a child really needs to be committed to our custody and be behind a fence, typically, in a residential setting or whether they could receive those services in the community in a less restrictive environment,” Crump says.
“Because each kid is different, I mean you can’t treat them all, you know, act as if there’s one or two or three buckets that you can put kids into when they come into our custody.”
He says they have hired clinicians and educational specialists to assess the children over a span of a couple weeks and then do follow-ups with them one-three months later. This allows for the children to be back at home or in their communities while getting treatment.
The Division of Youth Services has also hired a peer recovery specialist to help kids with drug addictions. This specialist overcame some of her own struggles with drugs and can relate to the children on a similar level, according to department officials.