National Survey of Juvenile Community Supervision Agency Practices and Caregiver Involvement in Behavioral Health Treatment

  • Angela A. RobertsonEmail author
  • Matthew Hiller
  • Richard Dembo
  • Michael Dennis
  • Christy Scott
  • Brandy F. Henry
  • Katherine S. Elkington
Original Paper



This study sought to expand the sparse literature examining the extent to which family engagement interventions and the structural characteristics of juvenile community supervision agencies influence caregiver participation in youths’ behavioral health (i.e., mental health and substance use) treatment.


We analyzed data from a national survey of juvenile community supervision agencies, conducted as a part of a Juvenile Justice Translational Research on Interventions for Adolescents in the Legal System (JJTRIALS) Cooperative Agreement funded by NIH/NIDA.


Findings indicated agencies employ a variety of family engagement strategies, with passive strategies like services referrals and flexible schedules being more common than active strategies like provision of family therapy. Multivariate prediction of caregiver involvement in behavioral health care showed the most consistent effects for rural-urban location of the agency; rural agencies more successfully engaged families in their youth’s behavioral healthcare. Relatedly, the more family engagement services, the greater the involvement of families in behavioral health treatment. Agencies with a juvenile drug treatment court also showed greater involvement.


Our findings that juvenile justice agencies are using multiple techniques to engage families, and that there is a relationship between use of these techniques and actual family engagement, would benefit from replication over time and in other jurisdictions. Analysis of data from a second wave of the national survey, recently completed, is expected to test the reliability of our findings over time, as well as identify whether and what kind of changes occurred in the 2 years following the first survey.


Family engagement Juvenile drug treatment courts Community supervision 



This study was funded under the JJ-TRIALS cooperative agreement, funded at the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) by the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The authors gratefully acknowledge the collaborative contributions of NIDA and support from the following grant awards: Chestnut Health Systems (U01DA03622), Columbia University (U01DA036226), Emory University (U01DA036233), Mississippi State University (U01DA036176), Temple University (U01DA036225), Texas Christian University (U01DA036224), University of Kentucky (U01DA036158). The contents of this publication are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of the NIDA, NIH, or the participating universities or juvenile justice systems.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical Approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed Consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Social Science Research CenterMississippi State UniversityStarkvilleUSA
  2. 2.Department of Criminal JusticeTemple UniversityPhiladelphiaUSA
  3. 3.Department of CriminologyUniversity of South FloridaTampaUSA
  4. 4.Chesnut Health SystemsNormalUSA
  5. 5.The Heller School for Social Policy and ManagementBrandeis UniversityWalthamUSA
  6. 6.Columbia University and New York State Psychiatric InstituteNew YorkUSA

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