Tuesday, August 2, 2016

[San Mateo County] Grand jury tackles youth issues

The San Mateo County civil grand jury has released a pair of separate reports that focus on troubled youth in the community. One suggests better treatment options for young people with serious psychiatric issues; the other takes aim at the juvenile justice system.
The first of the two reports, issued on July 18, notes that the county has 13 psychiatric beds set aside for kids in need of serious inpatient treatment, but that most kids are forced to look elsewhere for treatment due to a shortage of beds here.
The grand jury calls for the county Board of Supervisors to direct the county’s Behavioral Health and Recovery Services Division to track data to better understand admission rates into Mills Health Center.
Two hospitals currently provide emergency psychiatric care in the county, the San Mateo Medical Center and Mills-Peninsula Medical Center. But neither has beds available and youth in crisis are often shifted to the San Mateo health center. The grand jury found that kids who were treated by Mills-Peninsula staff were more than four times more likely to get a bed at its affiliated Mills Health Center than those treated at the county-managed San Mateo Medical Center.
The grand jury found that most of those needing beds for psychiatric treatment, including many dependent on Medi-Cal payments, were transferred as far as Santa Rosa for care. Experts testified that being that far from home can negatively affect treatment outcomes.
Two days later, the grand jury outlined the true costs of incarcerating juveniles in San Mateo County. It found that the true cost of housing and supportive services for a juvenile was $340,000 a year or $930 a day.
The county’s probation department runs a juvenile hall and Camp Kemp, a 30-bed facility for girls, both on Tower Road in San Mateo. In addition, the department administers the 60-bed Camp Glenwood for boys in La Honda. All three have been operating at about 50 percent capacity since 2013, according to the report.
The grand jury was focused on consolidating costs for such services. It found the cost of all associated programs was about $40.8 million annually. The grand jury suggested the county Controller study whether the facilities could be run more efficiently, perhaps by addressing the lack of capacity in the three sites.
July 26, 2016
Half Moon Bay Review
From staff reports

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