Michigan to continue juvenile justice reform momentum thanks to federal funding boost

MDHHS awarded $825,000 from U.S. Department of Justice

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) will expand treatment options in local communities for youth involved in or at-risk of being involved in the juvenile justice system through an $825,000 federal grant.

The grant will help MDHHS continue to move forward with its ongoing reform of the juvenile justice system that has resulted in better placement options.

Funding from the U.S. Department of Justice Office of Juvenile Justice Delinquency Prevention will allow the department to implement the Building Local Continuums of Care to Support Youth Success project. A continuum of care provides a range of prevention and intervention services for youth.

“We can best serve our youth and our communities by reforming the juvenile justice system to provide preventive and intervention services in local communities whenever possible, and relying on congregate care facilities only when young people need more intensive care,” said MDHHS Director Elizabeth Hertel. “We appreciate the support from our federal partners in offering the treatment that youth need to realize their aspirations.”

The state will plan and assess promising and evidence-based prevention and intervention services while developing a community-based continuum of care for youth.

“Michigan has made so much progress in reforming its juvenile justice system to provide better treatment services to the youth it serves,” said Demetrius Starling, senior deputy director of the MDHHS Children’s Services Administration. “I’m excited by the additional opportunities for improvement that comes through this federal investment in our hard work. This award further solidifies that we are headed in the right direction with our reform efforts.”

Project activities include:

  • Starting a Juvenile Justice Planning Council that will advance efforts to reduce the number of youth placed in detention or secure residential placements through effective prevention, intervention, diversion and reentry services.
  • Identifying evidence-based practices, and culturally appropriate strategies that advance the long-term well-being and success of youth and their families.
  • Developing strategies to evaluate the economic impact of changes that result in cost savings and identifying how those cost savings can be reinvested into the larger continuum of care.
  • Creating a sustainable framework that supports reducing incarceration of youth and their diversion into community programs through a coordinated, collaborative strategy that also promotes safe communities.

“The Michigan Center of Youth Justice enthusiastically supports any efforts to provide youth with more prevention and treatment services within their communities,” said Jason Smith, executive director of the organization, which works to reform the state’s juvenile justice system. “We believe in the power of community-based care to support our children and families. Rehabilitative services increase youth success outcomes and are often more cost-effective. This grant will help Michigan continue to provide better care and services to our youth.”