Up to 80 percent of youth in foster care have significant mental health issues as compared to approximately 22 percent of youth in the general population. Up to 70 percent of youth who touch the juvenile justice system have a diagnosable mental health issue. These issues are the result of both biological and environmental factors including exposure to trauma, violence, extreme stress, and separation from important persons. Yet many will remain undiagnosed or untreated. In California, less than half of the foster youth who are eligible for mental health services will receive them. The juvenile court judicial officer plays a unique leadership and oversight role in the courts, not only helping to ensure agencies and individuals are meeting the needs of youth, but also providing active leadership in determining the needs of youth and obtaining and developing resources and services to meet those needs. This series of juvenile court mental health bench cards and the accompanying mental health resource guide are intended to support judicial officers in California to make informed decisions and orders for youth in the child welfare and juvenile justice systems, including those with mental health needs.
The Resource Guide also can be a helpful tool for attorneys, advocates, and families looking for basic information on the mental health system and services available for youth.
Supporting the Mental Health of Youth in Juvenile Court Resource Guide and Bench Cards were written by NCYL and EBCLO, published by the California Judicial Council, and produced as part of Chief Justice Tani Cantil Sakauye’s Keeping Kids in School and Out of Court initiative.