Welcoming Evidence-Based Treatments (EBTs) and Building Accountability for the Juvenile Drug Treatment Court Team, Youth, and Family

Objective 6: Refer participants to evidence-based substance use treatment, to other services, and for pro-social connections.

Written by Martha-Elin Blomquist, Ph.D., Site Manager, National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges

Many Juvenile Drug Treatment Courts (JDTCs) have accountability as part of their mission statement. Holding youths accountable for desired behavior is one part of accountability. However, accountability isn’t just for the youth. The team should hold itself accountable for providing JDTC participants with a continuum of services and treatment interventions, delivered by trained and certified treatment professionals that have been demonstrated to be effective in promoting change. 

JDTC teams have every reason to welcome evidence-based treatments (EBTs) and to include them in their programs. Using evidence-based treatments takes the guesswork out of what treatment to offer and what to expect from treatment interventions. Using EBTs ensures that what you provide to youths as treatment will give youths and family members the tools they need for success in your JDTC and beyond. The tools include an understanding of substance using behavior and triggers, as well as strategies for replacing substance use-related unhealthy, developmentally disruptive and anti-social behavior with healthy, life-affirming and developmentally desirable behavior and activities. 

Short-Term Actions

1)    Create a shared knowledge base for all team members about the continuum of EBTs that exist for adolescents and that would be appropriate to provide to your JDTC participants. State- and county-level departments of behavioral health or health and human services have experts on staff that are knowledgeable of different types of EBTs, the populations they are appropriate for, and criteria for their use. Contact the relevant behavioral health department to ask for a speaker to meet with your team and interested stakeholders for a Q&A 101 session on EBTs for adolescents with substance use disorders. 

Click below to link to additional resources to use to prepare for the Q&A session

Screening, Brief Interventions, and Referral to Treatment (SBIRT)

2)    Schedule a team meeting to set goals and create an action plan for securing and sustaining EBT interventions and services to meet the needs of JDTC participants. Click here for an action planning template.

Long-Term Actions

1)    Map your community’s treatment resources. Work with county- or state-level government behavioral health experts and/or use SAMHSA internet resources such as the Behavioral Health Treatments and Services and the Behavioral Health Treatment Services Locator, to find evidence-based treatment resources in your community. Invite providers to complete a survey on their services. Ask them to make a presentation to your team about their services. Hold an open house so that your team may visit the program, meet staff, and see the program setting.

Click below to link to additional resources on community treatment mapping tools

2)    Develop contracts with providers for services that meet your team’s EBT goals. Hold a team brainstorming session on service features to be included in contracts to achieve the team’s EBT services goals. Ask relevant state or county department of behavioral health or health and human services staff to facilitate the brainstorming session.