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Health Services

The mission of Health Services is to ensure professional, high quality, comprehensive, and timely health, mental health, substance abuse, and developmental disability services to our children.


Many of the youth who enter the Department of Juvenile Justice have pre-existent chronic medical conditions such as diabetes, hypertension, hemophilia, sickle cell disease, renal failure, etc., and serious dental disease, as well. Some have not accessed medical care prior to entering the Department’s facilities and new diseases are discovered while they are in custody. Other youth have new injuries, illnesses, and emergencies that arise. Nonetheless, the Department is responsible for ensuring that these youth receive the same degree of care that they would, had they been out in the community. Our vision: health systems that provide quality services, accountability and responsibility for the children in the care of the Department of Juvenile Justice.

Over 65% of the youth in the Department’s care have a mental illness or substance abuse issue. Additionally, a significant number of youth have experienced severe childhood trauma (physical, sexual, emotional abuse) which impacts their behavior and treatment needs. All issues must be addressed through assessments, evaluations, crisis intervention and treatment services. There is also a subset of DJJ youth who are developmentally disabled and the Department is responsible for ensuring that youth with a developmental disability receive appropriate care and treatment services. Each branch has a means in place to begin to approach these areas, but the Office has been actively engaged in the process of improvement, oversight, and further development. The Office of Health Services was established in 2005 with the hiring of the Department’s first Chief Medical Director.

The majority of health care services provided in DJJ facilities and programs are offered through contracted providers. All twenty-six of the Department’s detention centers and all but three of the Department’s more than 120 residential commitment facilities procure medical, mental health and substance abuse services through contractual arrangements.


The Office of Health Services is responsible for assisting the Department with the oversight of medical, mental health, substance abuse, and developmental disability services to all youth adjudicated delinquent and placed under the supervision of the Department.

To adequately fulfill its responsibilities to the Department and the youth in its care and custody, the Office of Health Services must provide Clinical Technical Assistance, Administrative Rule and Policy Development, Contract Enhancement, Standardization and Monitoring, Staff Training and Support, Legislative Support, Quality Assurance Standards for Health and Mental Health/Substance Abuse Services, Parental Assistance, Research and Resource Assistance, Employee Health Resource and Inter-Agency Collaborations.


The long term vision and planning for the Office of Health Services is to extensively improve the quality of medical, dental, mental health, substance abuse and developmental disability services provided to the youth in our care through:
  • increased resources,
  • improved staffing, increased contract monitoring and compliance,
  • early troubleshooting for problem areas/programs and,
  • improved collaborations with other state Agencies, such as, the Department of Children and Families, the Department of Health, the Agency for Health Care Administration, and the Agency for Persons with Disabilities.