By Carla Branch

Northern Virginia Juvenile Detention Center (Photo: Katie Smythe)

The Northern Virginia Juvenile Detention Commission and the Virginia Department of Juvenile Justice have signed a Memorandum of Agreement to provide Intake and Assessment for juveniles who are committed to DJJ at the Northern Virginia Juvenile Detention Center, which is located in Alexandria. The new program began on July 1, and runs through June 30, 2019, with possible extensions.

“DJJ approached us to provide these services because they are centralizing the intake and assessment process in Juvenile Detention Centers throughout Virginia,” said Patricia Hennig, one of Alexandria’s representatives to the Commission. “The goal is to conduct the initial intake as close to the child’s home as possible so that the family can be involved. It’s a great opportunity for us as we have the capacity to accommodate additional young people in the Detention Center.”

The intake and assessment process generally take 21 days but can be extended up to 30 days. DJJ’s reasons for contracting with various Juvenile Detention Centers are: to move juveniles more efficiently through the intake process (the initial stage of commitment); make better informed decisions; and minimize transitions and multiple movements for the committed young.

“When DJJ receives a commitment packet that they want us to handle, they will send it to Detention Center staff where a case manager will be assigned to coordinate the process,” Hennig said. “If we need to transport the young person to the Detention Center, we will do that. Mostly, our staff will work with DJJ contractors who will perform mental health and other assessments that are part of the intake process. During the intake process, the young person will remain at the Detention Center. Once the process is complete, DJJ will decide on the most appropriate placement for the young person.”

DJJ will pay the Commission $175 per day per juvenile. This could reduce the funding burden on the three jurisdictions that currently pay for juveniles housed at the Detention Center – Alexandria, Arlington and Falls Church.