City Desk

DYRS On Track To Overspend On Outsourcing Kids

WaPo's Mike DeBonis reports today that Chief Financial Officer Natwar M. Gandhi notified Mayor Vincent Gray and D.C. Council members this morning that several city agencies are projected to go over budget this year by tens of millions of dollars.

One of the biggest costs putting the city in the red: the Department of Youth Rehabilitation Services' continued insistence on placing youths in out-of-state residential treatment facilities. The juvenile justice agency is projected to spend $8.4 million more than originally allocated for this outsourcing. In a recent cover story we outlined reasons why this is an outdated, extremely costly, and ineffective use of public funds.

The DC Behavioral Health Association raised similar concerns about DYRS' emphasis on residential treatment in a 2010 report.

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  • Tony Smythe

    DC has no local residential treatment centers. If the kids commit crimes in DC, all of a sudden DYRS should not have released them. Which one is it DC? can't have it both ways.

  • Jason Cherkis

    Why spend money on residential treatment in the first place? Even the Surgeon General says they aren't effective--especially for DYRS kids.

  • Bob

    this is stupid...what would you suggest placing them back on the street?

  • 4Ward4

    If you read the linked report, it says that 73% of the youth placed in these expensive, ineffective residential treatment centers never received a prior mental health treatment. DYRS could save money and get better outcomes for children by linking them to treatment earlier in the process.

  • Reflection

    These comments are emotional, thought provoking and unfortunately useless. We are missing the point, that there are fundamental problems within the families and until you engage these families in a manner that both requires their participation and reflects treatment for the entire family we are creating the future homeless. Financially and socially the costs and struture of these systems are unsustainable. We need to slow the pipeline with early treatment and employ an evidence based approach to bringing individuals back to their communities. There is a fundamental misunderstanding by people that say we can treat people in the community using an "IF YOU BUILD IT THEY WILL COME APPROACH" not so. Understand the "no show " rates for providers serving these individuals in the community. Families have to be invested in making sure the child & family participates in the treatment regime by actually going to treatment or allowing people into their homes for treatment. We can treat kids in school but that only addresses the issues "in school" it does not reflect how children will act in their homes and communities. While I admire what Jason is writing about, I emplore you to outline evidence based ideas that work. I am struggling everyday with the incidents of children who are abused,homeless and self medicating on the streets of this city. Many have mental health challenges but they and their families shy away from treatment.I have seen instances where treatment is brought into the home and the caregivers see it as a time for them to leave and get a break from the child.