Research shows that a critical time in development occurs in the teen years. The brain reaches its full development at age 25 and the teen years are a time of testing boundaries. It is critical for our youth to empowered and supported to make positive decisions.
In addition to the empowering and supporting youth, adults must work together to address some of the serious problems faced by our teens. The Coalition utilizes data, and works with other agencies, faith-based organizations and concerned citizens to develop strategies addressing these issues.
Emotional Problems/Teen Suicide - TeenScreen, a program of the Children’s Coalition, is providing basic mental health screenings as a service to students in an effort to promote a healthy student body. The screening was developed by Columbia University, with the purpose to identify and help youth who suffer from depression and other emotional problems. Alarmingly, 1 out of every 5 teens in America suffers from emotional problems, and most never receive help. Depression, anxiety, substance abuse and even suicidal tendencies are all common problems in youth. A TeenScreen professional will screen during school hours, with parental permission. Screening is confidential and free of charge to the family. Trained mental health professionals administer the screen. If screening indicates a potential problem, there is a short face-to-face meeting with a trained specialist. Youth screening at-risk of a mental health problem are connected to community resources such as counseling. For more information contact Jan Daniels, Teen Screen Program Director.
Juvenile Justice – A normal part of adolescence is making some unwise choices. Too many young people in our community do not have the family support that they need. When a youth breaks the law, or engages in acts that are illegal for juveniles, like smoking, drinking or skipping school, they become part of the Juvenile Justice System. Between 3,000 and 4,000 children and youth have contact with the Juvenile justice in the 4th Judicial District (Ouachita and Morehouse Parishes) annually.
The Children’s Coalition is a lead partner in a Louisiana Models for Change in Juvenile Justice grant to the University of Louisiana at Monroe. Other lead partners include the 4th Judicial District Attorney’s Office and the 4th Judicial District Court. The overall goal of Models for Change is to effectively hold young people accountable for their actions, provide for their rehabilitation, protect them from harm, increase their life chances, and manage the risk they pose to themselves and to public safety.
The Coalition also serves as the fiscal agent and facilitator of the 4th JDC Youth Services Planning Board. In 2007/2008, the board published a “Youth Services Resources Directory“ to make families aware of the services available to children in youth in Ouachita and Morehouse Parishes. The current work of the YSPB is structured around the goals set forth in the Models for Change in Juvenile Justice grant:
- Create a model Juvenile Drug Court (Lead Partner ULM)
- Create a strategic plan for juvenile justice reform for the 4th JDC
- Increase the use of Evidence Based Practices for children and youth
- Select and pilot a model parenting program for juvenile justice involved youth and their families