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  • Oct 16, 2012

Cambridge Health Alliance Hosts National Workgroup on Juvenile Mental Health and Crime Prevention

Cambridge, MA…On October 11th and 12th, Cambridge Health Alliance’s Department of Psychiatry hosted a research workshop for a national group of experts on crime prevention and juvenile diversion in conjunction with the Cambridge Safety Net Collaborative, an innovative partnership between Cambridge Health Alliance (CHA), the Cambridge Police Department, Cambridge Public Schools, and the Cambridge Department of Human Service Programs.

The group convened at the Harvard Faculty Club in Cambridge to collaborate on best practices related to building, sustaining, and advancing partnerships in the fields of mental health. The discussions focused on how healthcare providers and law enforcement could work in conjunction to maximize positive outcomes for at-risk youth.

National guests in attendance included Dr. Steven Marans of the Yale Child Study Center, clinical social worker Sarah Greene and Major Eddie Levins of the Child Development-Community Policing program in Charlotte, N.C., Deborah Smolover, director of New Profit Inc., and Dr. Candice Kane, chief operating officer of Cure Violence in Chicago.

The Cambridge Safety Net Collaborative fosters positive youth development, promotes mental health, supports safe school and community environments, and limits youth involvement in the juvenile justice system through coordinated prevention, intervention, and diversion services for Cambridge youth and families. The Collaborative identifies at-risk youth and, through an integrated process incorporating insight and recommendations from CHA and Cambridge’s school, police, and human services departments, determines the best intervention, such as a mentoring opportunity, afterschool program, or mental health action. Since its inception in 2007, the Collaborative has assisted hundreds of families in the Cambridge community.

"The stakeholders in Safety Net, from across various agencies in the city, came away from the working group with critical information for how we can advance our collaborative to offer innovative and coordinated support and services to the families and young people who need it most in our community," said Dr. James Barrett, CHA psychologist, an instructor in psychology at Harvard Medical School, and clinical director of the Cambridge Safety Net Collaborative.

“We were impressed that our Collaborative, while sharing many aspects of nationally tested interventions, served as a ‘laboratory’ for a new approach that focuses on helping younger adolescents become inoculated to violence,” added Dr. William Pollack, senior clinical consultant on the mental health of men, adolescent males, and boys at CHA and an associate clinical professor of psychology at Harvard Medical School. “The program excels in helping youth learn that there are practical and life-sustaining alternatives which can both keep them and those around them safe and hopefully ensure not just the absence of crime but the presence of new possibilities for happy and successful lives.”

Cambridge Health Alliance is an integrated, award-winning health system that provides high quality care in Cambridge, Somerville, and Boston’s metro-north communities. It includes three hospital campuses, a network of primary care and specialty practices, and the Cambridge Public Health Dept. CHA is a Harvard Medical School teaching affiliate and is also affiliated with Harvard School of Public Health, Harvard School of Dental Medicine, and Tufts University School of Medicine. For more information, visit

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