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The Healthy Returns Initiative was developed and funded by The California Endowment to strengthen the capacity of county juvenile justice systems to improve services for youth with unaddressed mental and physical health issues and ensure continuity of care as youth transition back to the community. Launched in 2005, the foundation provided four-year planning and implementation grants to probation departments in Humboldt, Los Angeles, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz, and Ventura counties promote juvenile justice reform and systems change. With the goals of decreasing unnecessary confinement and ensuring the long-term success of youth, the five county probation departments connected youth and their families to mental health, physical health, substance abuse, wraparound, and other critical support services.


Key Strategies
In order to better connect youth to appropriate treatment, benefits, and resources, the Healthy Returns Initiative probation departments developed and implemented a variety of strategies that went beyond standard practice, including:
  • Using a validated tool to screen youth for mental health and substance abuse issues, to better identify those in need of assessment and treatment;
  • Enhancing access to mental health treatment, heath care services, and evidenced-based practices for youth in detention facilities and in the community;
  • Stabilizing youth and their families by connecting them to resources, such as health coverage, income assistance, and housing;
  • Ensuring continuity of care for youth and their families during their transition back to the community;
  • Strengthening partnerships and developing linkages between staff, county agencies, and community-based providers to share information and better coordinate services; and
  • Educating and training staff on best-practices for addressing and working with youth with mental health needs.

  • Juvenile Justice-Mental Health Policy Group
    The California Endowment created a policy group including representatives from probation, law enforcement, mental health, youth and family service and legal advocacy organizations, to address practice and policy issues at the state level, as well as those arising from the local Healthy Returns Initiative sites.
    David Steinhart
    Attorney and Director, Juvenile Justice Program, Commonweal
    Chair of the Juvenile Justice-Mental Health Policy Group
    Dr. Bill Arroyo
    Medical Director, Child, Youth, and Family Program Administration
    Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health
    Gigi Barsoum Program Manager, Innovation, The California Endowment
    Barrie Becker State Director, Fight Crime: Invest in Kids, California
    Sue Burrell Staff Attorney, Youth Law Center
    Ray Colmenar Program Manager, Health and Human Services, The California Endowment
    Miriam Krinsky
    Member, California Judicial Council
    Lecturer, UCLA School of Public Affairs
    Karen Pank Executive Director, Chief Probation Officers of California
    Robert Phillips Director, Health and Human Services, The California Endowment
    Barbara Raymond Director, Innovation, The California Endowment
    Cal Remington Acting Chief Probation Officer, Los Angeles County
    Oscar Wright
    Chief Executive Officer, United Advocates for Children and Families

    Technical Assistance and Evaluation
    In addition, The California Endowment supported technical assistance for the sites from La Piana Consulting to provide customized capacity building in each of the five counties and create a learning community among all initiative partners; a comprehensive evaluation of the Healthy Returns Initiative, including both youth and staff assessments, conducted by the National Council on Crime and Delinquency; and case studies documenting county-level systems change outcomes experienced by each site, which were researched and developed by Desert Vista Consulting. In addition, the foundation enlisted i.e. communications to prepare a report on the promising strategies and lessons learned from the Healthy Returns Initiative.

    About The California Endowment
    The California Endowment is a private, statewide health foundation that was created in 1996 as a result of Blue Cross of California’s creation of WellPoint Health Networks, a for-profit corporation. The California Endowment’s mission is to expand access to affordable, quality health care for underserved individuals and communities, and to promote fundamental improvements in the health status of all Californians. For more information on The California Endowment, click here.

    The California Endowment will continue to promote the promising practices identified by the Healthy Returns Initiative and incorporate the lessons learned into the foundation’s new 10-year strategic focus, Building Healthy Communities. The goal of Building Healthy Communities is to support the development of communities where kids and youth are healthy, safe, and ready to learn. For more information, click here.