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Department of Juvenile Justice Forms Partnership with University of Kentucky Healthcare

Providing focused medical care for the commonwealth's at-risk youth

FRANKFORT, Ky. (Oct. 23, 2020) - Governor Andy Beshear and the Kentucky Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) announced today it has entered into a partnership with the University of Kentucky (UK) Healthcare, Kentucky Children's Hospital in keeping with its statutory obligations to act in the best interests for youth in state custody or care.

"Every member of Team Kentucky should have health care – especially our youth," said Gov. Beshear. "As I have said before, I am committed to building a Kentucky that is safer for our children and that includes providing quality health care to all. This partnership is another step forward as we create a better Kentucky by offering the best services possible to the at-risk youth in the commonwealth who need and deserve our attention."

As part of the partnership, Dr. James Van Buren will serve as DJJ's Medical Director and will oversee medical care for more than 200 youth within DJJ custody. The agreement will allow DJJ access to a network of UK specialists to assist youth with a variety of health care needs.

"Many of the youth within DJJ come from medically underserved communities and have not had access to quality medical care," said DJJ Commissioner LaShana Harris. "DJJ's partnership with UK Healthcare is one of the many ways we are helping Kentucky's youth in custody develop the knowledge, skills and confidence to adopt wellness principles and develop health conscious lifestyles. It is our hope that they will take these healthier life skills with them as they return to their communities and start a ripple effect for their families and others."

Dr. Van Buren is currently an Assistant Professor in the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Kentucky where he has been practicing General Pediatrics since 2016. Dr. Van Buren will lead UK Healthcare's team of medical professions to provide comprehensive and coordinated care that is focused on what is best for the young patients.

"We believe a dose of compassion is an important part of good medicine, especially for a population who may be lacking in compassion," said Dr. Scottie B. Day, physician in chief of Kentucky Children's Hospital.

For a video from Dr. Day on UK Healthcare's commitment to provide comprehensive and coordinated care to Kentucky's youth in custody, click here.

About the Kentucky Department of Juvenile Justice

The Kentucky Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) is an agency under the Kentucky Justice and Public Safety Cabinet responsible for prevention programs for at-risk youth, court intake, pre-trial detention, residential placement and treatment services, probation, community aftercare, and reintegration programs, as well as the confinement of youth awaiting adult placement or court. DJJ strives to promote a comprehensive array of cost-effective services for at-risk youth. These services are directed toward preventing delinquency, providing efficient rehabilitation services, and altering the rate of recidivism with appropriate aftercare while minimizing risk to the community.