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New Team Will Work With High-Risk Youths In McLean County

Trisha speaks
Ryan Denham
Trisha Malott is the county’s Behavioral Health Coordinating Council supervisor.";

As many as 50 high-risk youth with mental illness or substance abuse issues in McLean County will benefit from a new team approach to serving them, funded in part by a new grant.

The Comprehensive Assessment Team (CAT) will work with youths who’ve had some contact with law enforcement. CAT will pull together any service provider that's had a “touchpoint” with a given youth, such as social service agencies, counselors, or pediatricians, said Trisha Malott, the county’s Behavioral Health Coordinating Council supervisor. Meeting in person or by videoconference, the team will provide wraparound services for each youth, with the goal to reduce recidivism and treat behavioral health or substance abuse issues.

“It’s rare for teams of providers to all come together at one moment to discuss one specific youth,” Malott said. “It’s really to change how we approach high-risk youth and the families who really need it most, so that we’re building up a system around them. That’s a little bit different of an approach than we’re currently taking.”

An update on the program was offered at Thursday's Juvenile Justice Council meeting at Bloomington Police headquarters.

The CAT program is funded in part by a $381,590 grant from the Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) in the U.S. Department of Justice. The money will be used to pay the salary of new CAT coordinator Donnelle Pressburger; buy webinar software, cameras, and a case-management system; and other costs. The goal is to establish the program during the three-year grant period while making it sustainable long-term, Malott said.

The grant-funded program formalizes and expands upon a previous, more grassroots version of CAT that developed a few years ago, she said. Leaders hope it leads to a culture change in how agencies work together and share information.

“It will be a way to bring them all to the table and to all talk about that one individual youth’s treatment plan, so everyone’s on the same page and sharing information as they can,” Malott said.

Partners in the grant include the Center for Youth & Family Solutions (CYFS), which has locations in Bloomington.

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Ryan Denham is the digital content director for WGLT.