Simple Guidance to Increase the Success of our Youth in Treatment Court

Written by Jason Dye, Juvenile Drug Treatment Court Coordinator, Bannock County Juvenile Drug Court (ID)

In Bannock County, Idaho, we are not only known for our “World Famous Potatoes” but we are privileged to work with world class counselors, teachers, probation officers, and community stakeholders who all work hard for the success of our youth in Treatment Court. Each stakeholder strives to develop plans and interventions built on a foundation of evidence-based principles and best practices to increase strengths and capacity and to reduce the risk of our Treatment Court participants.

Despite our best efforts and interventions, our Treatment Court participants were experiencing frustrations and a lack of progression. We found that each participant had a treatment plan, probation case management plan, educational plan, and family contingency management plan at home, but the multiple plans were created with limited communication between stakeholders, and were often in conflict with each other.   

“Jane was experiencing an emotional outburst at home and school, which resulted in strained relationships with teachers, peers, and family. As a result, Jane would often use drugs in a maladaptive attempt to reduce her stress.”

Jane’s situation is a good example of when the lack of coordination between agencies leads to frustration and relapse. Jane was experiencing an emotional outburst at home and school, which resulted in strained relationships with teachers, peers, and family. As a result, Jane would often use drugs in a maladaptive attempt to reduce her stress. With the help of her counselor she chose the intervention "Pleasant Imagery" that she would utilize when she recognized that she might have an emotional response to a stressful situation. When she attempted this intervention at school and sat down to meditate, her teacher saw it as insubordination that violated her educational plan and sent her to district discipline. Her probation officer saw the reported insubordination which resulted in treatment court sanctions, and her parents responded with disappointment and restrictions at home. Jane responded with emotional outbursts, hopelessness, detachment, and increased drug use. 

In an attempt to reduce the likelihood of this situation repeating itself, our Treatment Court Team has increased the communication between the different stakeholders in a youth’s life. Our Treatment Court staffing has evolved into multi-disciplinary treatment team meetings where the counselors focus on sharing:

  • DBT skills,
  • coping strategies, and
  • refusal techniques with the Treatment Court Team.

The proper uses of the skills, strategies, and techniques have become part of the:

  • probation case management plans,
  • drug court weekly goals,
  • family contingency management, and
  • educational plans.

The probation officer coordinates and advocates for the participants with all stakeholders for the participants to be able to use their chosen intervention in all aspects of their lives.

In Jane’s case the probation officer met with the school administrator, teacher, parents, and Jane to review her interventions for emotional outbursts at school and home. The probation officer also contacted the family therapist who assisted in developing the parents' skills to support Jane better in her intervention attempts.  All stakeholders know the plans and are able to help Jane implement her intervention. We then report back to the treatment counselor Jane’s progress and they process her attempts and build on her successes. We are looking forward to building further supports and communication among all stakeholders in order to improve the success of our participants and the success of our Treatment Court as a whole.

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