Objectives: This study sought to expand the sparse literature examining the extent to which family engagement interventions and the structural characteristics of juvenile community supervision agencies influence caregiver participation in youths’ behavioral health (i.e., mental health and substance use) treatment. Methods: We analyzed data from a national survey of juvenile community supervision agencies, conducted as a part of a Juvenile Justice Translational Research on Interventions for Adolescents in the Legal System (JJTRIALS) Cooperative Agreement funded by NIH/NIDA. Results: Findings indicated agencies employ a variety of family engagement strategies, with passive strategies like services referrals and flexible schedules being more common than active strategies like provision of family therapy. Multivariate prediction of caregiver involvement in behavioral health care showed the most consistent effects for rural-urban location of the agency; rural agencies more successfully engaged families in their youth’s behavioral healthcare. Relatedly, the more family engagement services, the greater the involvement of families in behavioral health treatment. Agencies with a juvenile drug treatment court also showed greater involvement. Conclusions: Our findings that juvenile justice agencies are using multiple techniques to engage families, and that there is a relationship between use of these techniques and actual family engagement, would benefit from replication over time and in other jurisdictions. Analysis of data from a second wave of the national survey, recently completed, is expected to test the reliability of our findings over time, as well as identify whether and what kind of changes occurred in the 2 years following the first survey.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Developmental and Educational Psychology
- Life-span and Life-course Studies