About 70% of youth in detention have mental health diagnoses often related to high levels of trauma. To seek out a solution, the San Diego County Probation Department participated in the Center for Juvenile Justice Reform’s “Youth in Custody” certificate program through Georgetown University and developed plans for a specialized treatment unit—TRU or Trauma Responsive Unit—to better meet the specific needs of male youth in custody.
TRU has seen many successes in its first year, including zero violent incidents and significantly reduced suicidal behavior. When asked how TRU differs from more traditional units, the boys often describe experiencing an increased sense of safety and belonging, noting that the staff obviously care about them, and work together using a shared language and treat them like individuals, creating a “family-like” environment.
Probation and partners are expanding this evidence-based approach by developing a similar unit in Juvenile Hall for girls who have experienced trauma, including the experience of human trafficking or what is known as Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children (CSEC). The new unit is being modified to be gender-specific, remaking the more traditional institutional environment into one that is warm, colorful and welcoming. Common themes for positive development in girls, such as self-esteem, healthy relationships and self-care will be reflected in visible messages throughout the unit and within the content of treatment programming that is in addition to the evidence-based, trauma-specific intervention provided in TRU.
Read more about the program here.
Watch a video to learn more: http://www.counties.org/find/results/Tru%20Unit