Los Alamos Juvenile Justice Advisory Board Coordinator Lisa Zuhn chats with County Councilor Rick Reiss following a panel discussion during the Dec. 4 Council meeting. Photo by Maire O’Neill/losalamosreporter.com
Note: A landmark panel discussion was held at the Dec. 4 Los Alamos County Council meeting on Promoting a Healthy Community which resulted in a very extensive and comprehensive discussion of issues of concern in the community particularly for youth and the efforts being made to address those issues as well as available resources. The Los Alamos Reporter is publishing a series of stories based on the meeting. This is story is the second of four in the series.
BY MAIRE O’NEILL
Lisa Zuhn, a coordinator with the Juvenile Justice Advisory Board, explained the importance of the work being done by JJAB’s resource specialists to Los Alamos County Council members during a panel discussion at the Council’s Dec. 4 meeting.
Zuhn said JJAB provides programming and services to youth and families in our county and currently manages 24 different programs. She said resource specialists provide case management services that connect the community’s youth and families to resources.
“The resource specialist basically does an intake with the youth and the family to identify initial needs, works to connect them to resources and provides continuing follow-up. Some resources are mental health providers, basic needs such as shelter, clothing or food, medical coverage, academic needs, special interactions especially for our youth that have social anxieties, and much more,” she said.
She said normally additional needs come out as the resource specialist works with the youth and the families and builds trust.
“Last year for FY 2018 our resource specialists worked with 193 youth. This fiscal year in the last four months have handled 151 youth. While we’re seeing increase in our case numbers, what we’re really seeing is more intense cases with youth that are coming to us,” Zuhn said.
Referrals are received from the schools, medical providers, teen court, school resource officers and the police department, the juvenile probation and parole office, the teen center and CYFD.
“Just to give you an idea, one of the things that we track in our program is the initial reason for referral. The top three reasons for referral are behavioral or emotional needs, academic and educational needs and then financial and basic needs, but in the last four months we have had four referrals for suicidal ideation, two for self-harm, two for substance abuse or addiction and two for physical and emotional abuse,” Zuhn said.
She presented the following three examples of cases being worked on by resource specialists:
- “Our resource specialist received a referral from an elementary school counselor who was concerned about a student who had suicidal ideation. The resource specialist reached out to the mother and scheduled an intake meeting. The mother stated that she was aware of the suicidal ideation and was anxious to get the youth into outpatient therapy. The mother did not have health insurance so the resource specialist was able to locate free counseling in Santa Fe however the mother could not take the youth because of transportation issues. The resource specialist was able connect the youth in Los Alamos at a discounted rate. Were able to connect the mother to some basic needs support and we reached out to LA Cares, Los Alamos County Utilities assistance program and County Social Services. The youth now has New Mexico State Medicaid and is able to see a primary care physician and receives interventions for ADHD. The resource specialist is continuing to meet with the mother and the youth to follow up and ensure the family is remaining stable.
- ” A resource specialist received a referral from the middle school counselor who was concerned about the youth’s behaviors and stated that the family could use support. Based on the intake, there was a need for basic needs support and contact was made with Self-Help, Santa De Food Depot, Christian Concern, LA Cares, New Mexico State Assistance Programs, the White Rock United Methodist Church and LAPS financial support. The youth and the family were struggling with self-harm, suicide ideation, extreme behaviors towards other students and teachers. About six months as we were working with the family, they became homeless. Our resource specialist reached out to Immaculate Heart of Mary Catholic Church. New Mexico Crisis Center, Housing Choice Voucher, LA Victims Assistance and the Los Alamos Police Department to provide financial assistance for temporary housing. While the family is in temporary housing currently, the resource specialist is continuing to meet with them to set up therapy, mentorship, after school activities and tutoring support.”
- “A resource specialist received a referral for a middle school who had attempted suicide twice, once with pills and once with alcohol. The youth said that family issues have caused the self-medication and that going into high school next year and the politics surrounding LGBTQ issues are a constant worry. The youth stated that the issues started at the age of eight or nine with cutting. Again, this is a new referral and we’re just getting them support.”
To contact JJAB, call 505.709.8125 or visit https://www.losalamosjjab.com/.