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J Psychoactive Drugs. 2008 Mar;40(1):41-54.

Bringing adolescents into substance abuse treatment through community outreach and engagement: the Hartford Youth Project.

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Criminology and Criminal Justice Department, Central Connecticut State University, New Britain, CT, USA.


While outreach and case management services have been shown to improve retention of at-risk youth in behavioral health treatment, these important support services are challenging to implement. The Hartford Youth Project (HYP), established by the Connecticut Department of Children and Families as a pilot for the state adolescent substance abuse treatment system, made outreach and engagement integral to its system of care. HYPbrought together a network of stakeholders: referral sources (juvenile justice, schools, community agencies, child welfare, and families); community-based outreach agencies; treatment providers; and an administrative service organization responsible for project coordination. Culturally competent Engagement Specialists located in community agencies were responsible for: cultivation of referral sources; community outreach; screening and assessment; engagement of youth and families in treatment; case management; service planning; recovery support; and advocacy. This article describes HYP's approach to identifying and engaging youth in treatment, as well as its challenges. Use of family-based treatment models, expectations of referral sources, limited service capacity, youth and family problems, and staff turnover were all factors that affected the outreach and engagement process. Process, baseline assessment and case study data are used to describe the needs and issues specific to Hartford's substance-abusing Latino and African-American youth.

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