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Knowledge Brief: Mental Health Services in Juvenile Justice: Who pays? What gets paid for? And who gets to decide?

Published Dec 1, 2011, Models for Change Research Initiative

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Providing effective mental health services for youths in the juvenile justice system raisescomplex policy questions, including: Who pays? What services get paid for? And who getsto decide? The answers to these questions are changing rapidly, as financing shifts fromspecialized programs to broad-based insurance such as Medicaid. This brief provides anoverview of the changing financing streams and federal health care reform, and exploresthe opportunities and challenges facing mental health and social service providers, juvenilejustice practitioners, and others who want to have a seat at the policy table.

This brief is one in a series describing new knowledge and innovations emerging from Models for Change, a multi-state juvenile justice initiative. Models for Change is accelerating movement toward a more effective, fair, and developmentally sound juvenile justice system by creating replicable models that protect community safety, use resources wisely, and improve outcomes for youths. The briefs are intended to inform professionals in juvenile justice and related fields, and to contribute to a new national wave of juvenile justice reform.


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Models for Change is supported by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, website operated by Justice Policy Institute.

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