Portable Adolescent Therapy (PAT) for the Juvenile Justice System

Jean Callahan, The Vera Institute of Justice

The Vera Institute of Justice and the New York City Department of Juvenile Justice have developed a model of portable drug treatment designed to begin treating the most serious drug abusers as soon as they enter detention and provide care without interruption. By identifying heavy users and giving detention authorities a new treatment option, Vera hopes to overcome obstacles to starting treatment at the earliest possible moment. And by creating a treatment provider with authority to follow adolescents from agency to agency and into the community, we hope to eliminate the breaks in treatment that usually coincide with these transitions. The model combines elements of the most promising cognitive-behavioral and family-centered therapies--approaches shown to be effective with young drug abusers. Vera is testing this approach in a three-year demonstration program serving approximately 130 juveniles each year. We hope to demonstrate significant reductions in substance abuse; prevent delinquent and criminal behavior; and improve the physical, mental, social, and educational well-being of the adolescents we serve. Research suggests that appropriate drug treatment provided without interruption should have a positive impact on the most serious drug abusers in the juvenile justice system. Vera aims to demonstrate how that promise can be made real.

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Updated 05/20/2006