Mayor Cantrell Announces Mental Health Initiatives that Support Youth and Families

City of New Orleans

NEW ORLEANS — Mayor LaToya Cantrell and the Office of Youth and Families (OYF) today announced City investments for parental support and mental health initiatives for families impacted by the justice system.

OYF introduced a new partnership with the Children’s Bureau of New Orleans and Ubuntu Village to address the root causes of our public safety challenges through holistic, whole-family initiatives. These strategies were also identified as key solutions as a part of the citywide Youth Master Plan, published in 2021 by OYF, in partnership with the Children and Youth Planning Board.

“We are taking a holistic approach to address public safety in our city, and my team has been very focused on supporting organizations that continue to prioritize the mental health of families impacted by the justice system,” said Mayor Cantrell. “Meeting our people where they are remains a top priority for my administration.”

Research conducted prior to the pandemic demonstrated that as many as 70 percent of justice-involved youth had a diagnosable mental health disorder. These disorders included attention deficit hyperactivity disorders, behavior problems, anxiety disorders, depressive/mood disorders, and trauma-related diagnoses like posttraumatic stress disorders. With this support, the Children’s Bureau of New Orleans will deploy mental health clinicians to provide trauma-informed care to youth involved in the justice system. Clinicians will provide evidence-based trauma treatment to youth who are court-involved and are determined to have mental health symptoms secondary to trauma exposure.

“The funds from the City of New Orleans offer Children’s Bureau the opportunity to continue its work in the justice system, but to do it with more intentionality,” said Judge Calvin Johnson, Esq., Children’s Bureau Board Member. “We will continue to deliver evidence-based trauma treatment to youth who are court-involved. But we will be working to figure out how to embed these services in existing programs — making these services part of the programming will increase access and allow us to deliver much-needed services to our court-involved youth.”

Additionally, with this support, Ubuntu Village will administer the Parent Leaders Educate for Action (PLEA) program, which works with families of youth who have had contact with the justice system. More than 100 parents and caregivers will meet monthly to receive peer-to-peer support, educational resources, and leadership development. Referrals for this program will come from the Juvenile Justice Intervention Center and other stakeholders. Numerous studies have found that a family-systems approach not only reduced recidivism rates for justice-involved youth, compared to other models of treatment but also reduced the rates of siblings’ involvement in the justice system.

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