Why CIT for Youth?
An alarming number of youth with mental health needs struggle in school and at home with undiagnosed and untreated conditions. Left unidentified, the result is often an involvement with the criminal justice system.
Too often, law enforcement become involved with struggling youth at the time that some type of crime has been committed. Historically, even when a youth's needs are identified, strategic planning that may include crisis or safety plans are created and supported by mental health services. Law enforcement and schools are left in the dark until the time that drastic actions need to occur.
If proper identification of the mental health needs; collaborative planning and implementation of strategies; and an unmistakeable understanding of how to address situations by all were employed, successful outcomes could be realized.
What is CIT for Youth?
It basically takes the same concepts of CIT, adds some additional documentation, and focuses on the youth of our communities.
With the use of a memorandum of agreement, partnerships are formed with schools, law enforcement, mental health services, advocacy organizations, and any other resource that will be a member of a support system. Any can identify a struggling youth. A team approach is utilized with each team member being a support of the identified youth. A meeting will occur with each team member being present as well as the parents and the youth themselves. An open discussion will identify the causes of struggles and solutions. Each team member will have a voice and input of what their abilities and limitations in support of the youth are. The family and the youth will also have a voice. A strategic plan is developed and recorded on a document called a "Community Behavioral Contract" (CBC). Each team member signs in support as well as the parents and the youth themselves.
A big difference between a crisis plan and a CBC is that copies of the CBC are provided to each team member so that support can be provided regardless of where the youth is at the time. For example, a copy will be maintained by the school to put into motion the support the school will offer at a time of struggle. A copy will be maintained by the law enforcement agency so any CIT Law Enforcement Officer that becomes involved with the youth will have pre-identified direction of what course of action should be taken.
With this type of support and by working in partnership with the family and youth, a reduction of these youth spiralling into the criminal justice system can become a reality.
Is there training regarding CIT for Youth?
Yes, CIT Utah conducts an 8 hour CIT for Youth training that is developed regionally after a memorandum of agreement is developed and signed. A prerequisite for law enforcement officers to attend is that they must have already successfully completed the 40 hour CIT Academy and became certified as a CIT Officer. Other community partners that will become team members of the local CIT for Youth program do not have this prerequisite. The training not only provides specific instruction regarding youth dealing with mental health issues, but assists in the development of the working partnerships .