• Children, Families and the Law

    The Center of Excellence for Children, Families and the Law (CECFL) recognizes the life-changing decisions that are made when children and families come before Courts.

Course in Mental Health and Juvenile Justice

Instructor:  Robert Kinscherff, PhD, JD

This 28- hour blended learning course examines the intersection of the juvenile justice system and mental health, including legal, "systems," and applications of research in forensic psychology practice in the juvenile justice context. The course reviews the "cradle to prison pipeline," sequential intercept mapping of the juvenile justice system, forensic assessments, empirically-based interventions, and aspects of forensic report-writing and testimony.

The goals of this course are to develop competence in:

  • recognizing origins and implications of the overrepresentation of youth with mental health disorders in the juvenile justice system;
  • distinguishing clinical and forensic applications of assessment and intervention approaches;
  • distinguishing between "treatment" and "rehabilitation;"
  • using a sequential intercept model to identify points for diversion and intervention;
  • applying screening and assessment in juvenile justice programming;
  • crafting juvenile forensic evaluations and reports for different forensic evaluations;
  • using specialized tools and approaches for violence risk assessments, juvenile sexual offenses, juvenile fire setting; and,
  • presenting in court testimony.

Participants will become familiar with the essential elements of law which provide a framework for juvenile justice practice. Additionally, participants will become familiar with ethics, practice standards and other guides for competent professional practice in this context, including those relevant to practice with diverse populations. At the end of this course, participants will be able to begin expand their practices and skills with appropriate supervision and consultation for forensic psychology practice in the juvenile justice context.

Applicants will demonstrate an interest in family forensics and may include mental health professionals, lawyers, probation officers, juvenile justice professionals, child welfare and protection professionals, and court service workers. Prerequisites include an advanced degree in mental health, law, or human services.

Participants may take any course alone or choose to take four courses to receive a Certificate in Child and Family Forensics. The Certificate in Child and Family Forensics provides students with a solid foundation in the concepts, theories and practices in child and family forensic mental health work and will help professionals hone their skills and increase their knowledge to prepare them for work as GALs, evaluators, or parenting coordinators. Current courses include:  divorce child custody, interpersonal violence, child maltreatment, juvenile justice, and parenting coordination. These courses will review the law and systems, describe and practice protocols for evaluations, and review empirically based best practices and interventions through in-depth didactic instruction and opportunities for practice and consultation.