Court for the Individualized Treatment of Adolescents

Intervention; Ages 10–17


(Read the criteria for this rating)
  • Promising delinquency structure


The Court for the Individualized Treatment of Adolescents (CITA), an innovative juvenile mental health court, has been implemented in the Santa Clara County Juvenile Court, in San Jose, California. CITA is the nation’s first juvenile mental health court. It was established to improve the poor track record that juvenile courts and the mental health system have in dealing independently with mental health problems of children and adolescents. Early identification of youth with serious mental health problems opens the door for more effective and humane treatment of these children and adolescents. CITA mainly targets juveniles with serious mental illness that has contributed to their delinquent conduct or protracted involvement with the juvenile justice system and other youths who have not been successfully treated by community mental health agencies.

CITA staff use the Massachusetts Youth Screening Instrument (MAYSI) to screen all minors who are brought into custody and remain in the juvenile detention center. Children deemed eligible for the program receive comprehensive psychological assessments using other instruments. Those youth with substance abuse disorders are referred to concurrent diversion and treatment for drug abuse. A multidisciplinary team develops a comprehensive treatment plan for each eligible juvenile that integrates the wraparound philosophy of the county’s mental health system with the graduated sanctions system of the juvenile court. The Mental Health Court Coordinator oversees implementation of the comprehensive treatment plan. An elaborate set of protocols has been developed for CITA program operations.

Risk Factors

Antisocial/delinquent beliefs
Few social ties (involved in social activities, popularity)
General delinquency involvement
High alcohol/drug use
Lack of guilt and empathy
Life stressors
Makes excuses for delinquent behavior (neutralization)
Mental health problems
Physical violence/aggression
Violent victimization
Child maltreatment (abuse or neglect)
Family history of problem behavior/criminal involvement
Family violence (child maltreatment, partner violence, conflict)
Poor parental supervision (control, monitoring, and child management)
Low school attachment/bonding/motivation/commitment to school
Poor school attitude/performance; academic failure
Association with antisocial/aggressive/delinquent peers; high peer delinquency
Association with gang-involved peers/relatives
Peer alcohol/drug use


National Gang Center: Promising program structure


David E. Arredondo, M.D.
EMQ Children and Family Services
251 Llewellyn Drive
Campbell, CA 95008
Web site:

The Honorable Leonard P. Edwards
Center for Families, Children, and the Courts
25031 La Loma Drive
Los Altos Hills, CA 94022
Phone: (650) 948-9362
Fax: (415) 271-7217


Arredondo, D. E.; Kumli, K.; Soto, L.; Colin, E.; Ornellas, J.; Vavilla, R. J.; et al. (2001). “Juvenile Mental Health Court: Rationale and Protocols.” Juvenile and Family Court Journal, 52(4):1–19.

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