An Examination of the Risks and Health Needs of Adolescents and Young Adults with FASD in the Criminal Justice System.

Fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD) is an umbrella term referring to a range of permanent deficits that occur in a developing fetus as a result of exposure to alcohol during pregnancy. FASD is the leading cause of developmental disability among Canadian children and is identified as a major public health concern in Canada. Individuals with FASD experience high rates of health related problems, including serious mental illness and substance use, homelessness, violence and victimization. In BC, the government has committed to the important goal of providing individuals living with FASD the support needed to reach their full potential in healthy and safe communities. To assist in achieving this goal, the province has called for more research to inform treatment efforts in general health and justice settings. Kaitlyn McLachlan's research speaks to that need by providing a knowledge base specific to the risks and health needs of youth diagnosed with FASD in the justice system. The overall purpose of this study is to improve health outcomes for justice-involved youth with FASD, in part, by developing a knowledge-base about offending patterns and salient risk indicators in youth with FASD. The project will be based in BC and parallel data collection efforts will be made in additional provinces so that reliable conclusions can be made about this population. The information from this study can be used to inform the targets and timing of interventions and improve clinicians' recommendations about risk, risk management and interventions. The knowledge gathered about mental health and substance use problems will also be crucial in determining the types of community-based services youth with FASD require outside the justice system in order to maintain good health.