Tolou-Shams M, Holloway ED, Ordorica C, Yonek J, Folk JB, Dauria EF, Lehn K, Ezimora I, Wiley HMF. Leveraging Technology to Increase Behavioral Health Services Access for Youth in the Juvenile Justice and Child Welfare Systems: a Cross-systems Collaboration Model. J Behav Health Serv Res. 2022 Oct;49(4):422-435. doi: 10.1007/s11414-022-09808-1.
Researchers developed and reported initial outcomes of the Youth Justice and Family Well-Being Technology Collaborative (JTC) that aimed to leverage technology in public health and justice-related systems to increase access to behavioral health services. JTC was formed using a community-participatory research approach led by academic and judicial co-chairs and stakeholders from systems serving youth (i.e., behavioral health, legal, child welfare, school). The JTC was modeled after the Cascade framework to study gaps in implementation and uptake of healthcare services. The Telehealth Capacity Assessment Tool was used to identify capacity building needs and ways to use telehealth technology successfully. The JTC consisted of 20 stakeholders from the court, academic research, and justice-impacted youth. Eighteen meetings were held over 21 months. A mixed-methods approach was used to identify themes from the JTC meeting notes and telehealth capacity assessment data at 6, 12, and 18 months. Technology-related capacity was built over the first 12 months, but by 18 months, progress was stalled or marginally declined. Identified challenges included delivery of telehealth appropriately, overburdened IT departments, and inequities among youth and families to access and engage in technology interventions. However, the JTC is unique in collaborating with systems who do not ordinarily discuss workforce challenges or use technology to address challenges. Innovative models such as the JTC may be successful in bringing public health and justice systems together to identify gaps and develop strategies to increase behavioral health access.