Paulding County Juvenile Court Judge Michael Wehrkamp announced that the Juvenile Court, in partnership with the Paulding County Family & Children First Council (FCFC), has to date been awarded a total of $109,860.30 through the state’s Multi-System Youth (MSY) Program.

Multi-system youth are those who require services from more than one system, such as children services, the board of developmental disabilities, the mental health and addiction board, as well as juvenile justice. These youth often have complex physical, emotional, and behavioral needs that require these agencies to work in partnership to create a comprehensive service plan for each.

“Securing this funding has been the result of outstanding teamwork among community agencies—something we’ve been working hard to develop over the past few years,” Judge Wehrkamp said. “FCFC staff, Juvenile Court staff, and other community partners have spent many hours collaborating, resulting in quality applications for this state funding that has directly benefited youth and families in our county. I could not be more thankful for everyone’s hard work.”

The MSY Program is administered by the Ohio Department of Medicaid and was developed to prevent custody relinquishment and streamline systems of care for multi-system youth, while providing swift and efficient access to treatment.

“Through these collaborative efforts, Paulding County has become a major recipient of MSY Program funds, alleviating the effects of more limited local resources,” said FCFC Coordinator Cathy Ruiz.

Through collaboration with FCFC, Tri-County ADAHMS Board, and Defiance-Paulding Consolidated Department of Job and Family Services, the Juvenile Court has used MSY Program funds to link four juveniles with residential treatment and one juvenile with community-based services. A separate application for funds is made for each child, and the application period remains open, leaving the possibility of additional funding in the future.

Community-based services include individual and group counseling, care coordination, in-home therapy, and peer support. Residential treatment centers, which are used when community- based efforts are unsuccessful or unsuitable for a youth, typically house juveniles who have significant mental or behavioral health disorders or substance abuse issues.

In addition to financial assistance, the MSY Program offers a technical assistance team to provide counties with best practices to meet the needs of multi-system youth and to help facilitate coordination between the varied systems to best serve youth and their families. For one Paulding County youth in treatment, the technical assistance program linked the Juvenile Court to Project ECHO, which connects physicians, nurses, and other clinicians with teams of multidisciplinary experts who provide the specialized knowledge they need to care for patients with complex conditions. This collaboration consisted of 43 medical and psychological professionals who reviewed the youth’s case and gave recommendations for treatment and intervention and identified additional supports and services for the family unit.

The MSY Program application-writing team consists of FCFC Coordinator Cathy Ruiz, Juvenile Court Diversion and Probation Officer Shelby Reinhart, and Juvenile Court Probation Officer Dustin Westhoven. Assisting in the administration of grant funds is FCFC Treasurer and Fiscal Officer Tricia Taylor.