Criminal justice advocates and non-profit community join forces to communicate benefits of preserving Juvenile Mental Health Courts



When: Wednesday, February 23, 2011, 10:00 a.m.
Communities Foundation of Texas, 5500 Caruth Haven Lane, Dallas, TX 75255


Dallas, TX (February 22, 2011) – As a result of the budget deficit, funding for mental health services is in jeopardy. Children, who are the future of our state, should have access to mental health services that not only save taxpayers money today, but also in the future. Alternative dockets are cost effective; costing tax payers much less than detention. During the press conference, there will be significant importance placed on avoiding cuts to mental health funding. A few mental health statistics include:

  • Texas ranks 49th in the United States for mental health expenditures per capita.
  • One in five children and adolescents in the United States has a mental health disorder.
  • Children and adolescents are especially susceptible to developing mental illness, as research shows that half of all lifetime cases of mental illness begin by age 14.

CHILDREN AT RISK conducted the first independent evaluation of the four Juvenile Mental Health Courts in Texas (Austin/Travis, San Antonio/Bexar, El Paso and Harris Counties).  The publication, Texas Juvenile Mental Health Courts: An Evaluation and Blueprint for the Future, will be discussed at the press conference. Key findings include:

  • Juvenile Mental Health Courts are specialized courts that utilize a separate docket, coupled with a team approach and regular judicial supervision, to respond to individuals with mental illnesses who come in contact with the justice system.
  • The approximate cost of the program based on six months’ participation in Juvenile Mental Health Court is $150 per youth, per day. When compared to placement in juvenile detention at an approximate cost of $270 per day, there is an approximate savings of $29,160 per participant.
  • The National Alliance on Mental Illness estimates that 70 percent of youth in the juvenile justice system have at least one mental health disorder, and at least 20 percent of these youth experience significant functional impairment from a serious mental illness, such as schizophrenia or bipolar disorder. Despite these staggering statistics, it is estimated that only half of youth with mental health issues actually receive treatment.

Press Conference participants and attendees:

  • Robert Sanborn, Ed.D., President and CEO, CHILDREN AT RISK – Benefits of juvenile mental health courts and need for support during the legislative session.
  • Octavio Martinez, Jr., MD, MPH, MBA, Executive Director, Hogg Foundation for Mental Health – How Texas compares nationally in regards to mental health services for children and what we need to do as a state to be competitive.
  • Ashley Zugelter, Executive Director, National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) Dallas – Current realities for mental health services, the Capitol’s response, and the potential impact on Dallas.


CHILDREN AT RISK is a nonprofit organization leading the way to improving the quality of life for Texas’ children through research, collaboration, advocacy and legal services. CHILDREN AT RISK educates the community and public officials based on its groundbreaking research which tracks children’s health, safety, education, and economic conditions. By understanding children’s needs and speaking out on their behalf, CHILDREN AT RISK drives change.