ACS assists court-involved children and families and helps them to find a positive direction forward. In partnership with the Juvenile Court, ACS clinicians evaluate court-involved children and their families to understand their needs and recommend resources necessary to address their underlying problems. ACS is focused on continuing to meet the ever-broadening needs of the hundreds of court-referred children and their families throughout Middlesex County.
ACS clinicians interview the child and family, gather school and health records, and prepare a report for the Juvenile Court with their findings. The report to the court explains the child's behavior—taking into account how the child’s family history, school performance, and medical and mental health history have affected the child—and concludes with recommendations that would benefit the child and family.
Education & Advocacy for Children and Families:
Education & Advocacy builds on the comprehensive psychosocial evaluations of children and their families and provides the following services:
- Education of children and families about issues identified in the evaluation process such as special learning needs or mental illness.
- Advocacy for the clients and linking them with community services that are appropriate and realistic, such as medical care, mental health treatment, and in-home support for the family.
- Follow-up with clients and providers to help ensure that clients are actually receiving the recommended services.
Education & Advocacy for the Court and Community:
ACS has close ties with court personnel, schools, and community providers, who often turn to us with questions to help them better understand a variety of topics ranging from basic court procedures to how to access mental health services. We educate providers about the needs of high-risk, court-involved children and advocate for enhanced services and support for families.
ACS staff provide individual and group treatment to children and families at no cost, thus removing one of the most significant barriers to care. Many of these children are not able to access these services elsewhere due to long waiting lists and limitations with insurance companies. Group and Individual Treatment clients are referred from a variety of sources, including probation officers, the district attorney’s diversion program, assistant clerk magistrates, judges, attorneys, clinicians, schools, and the Department of Children and Families. The depth of their need and the level of their involvement with the juvenile justice and child welfare systems vary greatly. Many of these children have been diverted from facing delinquency charges on a “one-time” basis. Keeping them out of the juvenile justice system is critical to ensuring a better trajectory for their future.
Individual Treatment: ACS offers short-term individual treatment for court-involved children. Treatment focuses on self-identified issues and attempts to help the child find better ways to manage life stressors.
ACS Group Treatment: Psycho-educational treatment groups help kids learn the skills needed to cope with the challenges they face. Group sessions are tailored to the needs of the group and areas of focus often include:
- Improving self-awareness and communication skills;
- Managing family conflict;
- Identifying positive peer and romantic relationships;
- Learning healthy ways to cope with stress;
- Psychoeducation around substance abuse and addiction;
- Building self-esteem and self-advocacy skills;
- Navigating the challenges of cultural assimilation.
ACS serves as a training site for social work and psychology trainees as well as child psychiatry fellows. Training consists of conducting evaluations for youth and family members through individual and family interviews, writing comprehensive reports with recommendations for the court, observing court, testifying on assigned cases, and providing individual and group treatment.