By Karen Stokes
Statistics indicate that the period after a child leaves a secure detention facility are most at risk, and therefore require services.
Presently, Milwaukee County is developing a Type II residential treatment program as an alternative to corrections. The program is needed due to reports of poor treatment of youth offenders and over-crowding at Lincoln Hills’ correctional facility.
“The best option is build more secure space, not create more type of secure detention environments here in the County,” said Mark Mertens, administrator, Delinquent and Court Services Division. “But to build on our infrastructures by how do we treat our youth and how do we provide effective treatment for those who utilize the secured space. We need to find a better model.”
After presenting his ideas with various colleagues, Dr. Henry Schmidt was recommended to Mertens.
Dr. Schmidt, founder and president of Behavioral Affiliates in Seattle, Washington is a world recognized clinician and trainer.
A conference room at the Vel R. Phillips Children’s Court Center, 10201 W. Watertown Plank Road, was at capacity with judges, social workers and educators engaged in Dr Schmidt’s explanation of the “Integrated Treatment Model.”
The Integrated Treatment Model is an approach combining clinical and psychological treatment. Clients who suffer from substance abuse and mental disorders receive treatment that gets to the root of the problem.
In his presentation, Dr. Schmidt explained that it takes a team to work with the clients, and that the client needs to feel safe and secure in order to explore and learn. Having skills makes all the difference in the world.
“We need to engage in this environment so it can be an environment where kids can learn,” Dr. Schmidt said.
Dr. Schmidt said with at risk youth, we make judgments on what we see rather than the fact that the behaviors are usually coming from complex trauma with occurrences of neglect and abuse over a long period of time by an intimate other.
“We are all wired similarly and we would all most likely end up the same way given the same circumstances,” Dr. Schmidt said.
“Let’s come up with a model that will help us to really focus on this perspective that’s embraced by clients that they feel recognized and that they feel as though we are working with them,” said Dr. Schmidt.
Currently there are plans to use this model for a new residential treatment facility. The approval of the facility is awaiting approval by the Milwaukee County Board.