Team Treatment Meetings for Juvenile Offenders

Case Management – CJ445-01

Each person that immediately surrounds the life of a child provides a profound impact and helps to shape them into the young man or woman that they will eventually become as an adult. Separately, each person influences the child in their own powerful, unique way, but when those significant individuals come together and collaborate for the common good of the child it is a truly beautiful, progressive thing. To ensure that progress is made in the treatment plan of a juvenile offender, it would be wise for the parents/guardians, teachers, school administrators, the child’s attorney, doctors/therapists/social workers, and the child’s case manager to meet regularly, communicate openly, and work together to identify treatment and behavioral needs.

Family members are vitally important members of the treatment team when a juvenile finds themselves in trouble with the law. The parents, siblings, grandparents, aunts, or uncles might be the only people that can talk some sense into the child and positively influence their behavior. This might include confessing shortcomings to their case manager, turning themselves into the police, and encouraging the child to answer their attorney’s questions honestly. The child’s best interest and rehabilitation should always be closest to their heart, so the treatment team should be able to rely on the members of the child’s family for regular, honest updates about their compliance (or lack thereof) with the terms of their probation/parole. Participation from family members reinforces the importance of treatment, provide youths with an advocate to help articulate their needs, and increase the probability of a smooth transition to home at the end of out-of-home placement, and ensures that they are taking their medications. (Shanahan & DiZerega, 2016) Medical providers and the child’s attorney should be in constant communication with the parents so that in the event of an allergic reaction to medication or unforeseen repercussion, the team can address it immediately and effectively.

Teachers, coaches, and school administrators realistically spend the most time with the child at least during the school year. While it is difficult to devote their undivided attention to just one student, they have been empowered through training to identify warning signs for psychosocial stressors relating to poverty, domestic violence, abuse and neglect, trauma, or a psychiatric disorder that could distract a child from learning, growing, and thriving. They also see grades and the level of effort that a student is giving in school. (Rappaport & Minahan, 2016) If a particularly bright student suddenly begins to make poor grades, or a normally cheerful student comes to class sulky and withdrawn, that could be indicative of trauma or distress. If a student is not meeting their developmental milestones, demonstrates difficulty learning and mastering new concepts, or is so disruptive that they are often referred to the principal’s office to be disciplined, the treatment team needs to know that information.

Juvenile Case Managers seek to provide their clients with the education, skills, and coping mechanisms needed to prevent them from offending again (especially after they become adults.) While the juvenile client is meeting the terms of their sentence, whether it is serving time in a detention center or participating in an outpatient treatment such as drug/alcohol rehabilitation, it is the Case Manager’s job to prepare them for a seamless transition from an institution setting to a community setting. (, 2017) The case manager should be the instigator for the team meetings and the encourager for everyone surrounding the child to rally around them and collaborate. This can be done while the child is home but on probation or while they are in treatment or at a disciplinary program. Team meetings should continue after their client has completed their program or sentence as a preventive measure so that they stay on track and do not choose to make additional poor decisions. (Bartollas & Miller, 2017)

Although bound by HIPAA, there is still a great deal that a Pediatrician, Psychologist, or Psychiatrist can disclose to the parents and to the team in a meeting with the parents’ permission. The child cannot (and probably would not) give consent for treatment, so the parent(s) of said minor generally has the right to know the content of the child’s treatment until they reach their state’s age of majority. (Behnke & Warner, 2002) This might include information about health conditions that they have been diagnosed with, developmental concerns, limitations or disabilities that they might have, medical and vaccine history, and a list of current medications. (Lantos, 2015) Psychologists and Psychiatrists would be able to share any behavioral concerns they have with the group based on their observations of the child in session. Child psychiatric providers are valuable members of the team because they are knowledgeable about different approaches to more effectively manage the behavior of children with a specific behavioral condition or mental illness which they could teach to the family members and educators in the child’s life.

In the event that a juvenile has been removed from their home and it is the guardian(s) or foster family of the child that participates in the team meetings, it would be very helpful for the social worker, Guardian ad Litem, and attorney who are handling the child’s case to be included. This mutual disclosure of information would help the social worker and attorney prepare reports for the court and also help the family and educators know how to help prepare for upcoming events that might be stressful for the child. (, 2018) This might include preparing the child for a seamless transition back into the home of his biological parents, testifying in court, or attending a therapeutic treatment program that has been ordered by the court.

I feel strongly that the parents’ cooperation in team meetings and treatment of their child is the key to success. Their cooperation or reluctance also sets the tone for the meeting. At the initial team meeting, as the child’s case manager, I would not only advise the parents that I think that they should express their appreciation for each person’s assistance in their child’s case, but also announce that they have their complete cooperation with any provider from any discipline openly communicating with them and each other for the benefit of the child. If they need to fill out release of information forms for the different organizations/agencies to legally be able to discuss the child and their case, they could announce that they would be available at the conclusion of the meeting to fill them out and return on the spot. I am an advocate for open communication as long as it remains professional and “need to know.” Each provider and person at the meeting is equally important and should be able to openly communicate their ideas and suggestions. It is important for the parents and case manager to make each person feel heard and validated.

For this assignment, I tried to refer straight to the source or a subject matter expert at the very minimum. Rather than ignorantly rambling about confidentiality for psychiatric providers and pediatricians, I referred to articles on the American Psychiatric Association and American Pediatric Association’s websites. Instead of saying what I think social workers who work for Child Protective Services do, I referred to the Child Protective Services website. This website represents the agency for the state of North Carolina, but it does not vary much by state. For information about the family’s role in juvenile court cases, I read information on the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention’s website.