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Supporting American Indian and Alaska Native Youth Aftercare Treatment in Indian Country

by JB Kinlacheeny, MPH, Public Health Advisor – Alcohol and Substance Abuse Lead, Division of Behavioral Health, Office of Clinical and Preventive Services

The Indian Health Service Division of Behavioral Health has awarded $600,000 through the Youth Regional Treatment Center Aftercare Program to the Cherokee Nation’s Jack Brown Center Exit Disclaimer: You Are Leaving , a tribal YRTC in Tahlequah, Oklahoma, to support American Indian and Alaska Native youth to pursue and sustain safety, sobriety, and employability after release from a YRTC residential treatment program. The YRTC Aftercare Program will enhance our commitment and partnership with the Cherokee Nation to provide effective and responsive aftercare and recovery services to American Indian and Alaska Native youth.

The Jack Brown Center provides residential chemical dependency treatment for Native youth between the ages of 13-18 who are experiencing substance use problems. The center will use the funds to create a trauma-informed aftercare program for Native youth leaving residential substance use disorder treatment, including the design and mobilization of an Aftercare Service Network that builds recovery-ready communities that support youth in recovery. The program will create a culturally connected community of youth in recovery.

The IHS currently funds 13 Youth Regional Treatment Centers nationally. IHS operates seven of the YRTCs and contracts with tribes to operate six of the centers, including the Jack Brown Center. YRTCs address the ongoing issues of substance abuse and co-occurring disorders among American Indian and Alaska Native youth by providing a range of clinical services rooted in a culturally relevant, holistic model of care.

The IHS supports effective and responsive solutions for American Indian and Alaska Native youth behavioral health treatment requirements by administering safe and effective therapies to best manage sobriety and provide continued educational, vocational, and employment opportunities.

The YRTC Aftercare Program was established by the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2017 as a pilot project to build an aftercare component for the YRTCs. The IHS supported two grantees in the pilot phase and evaluated the pilot project in FY 2022. The IHS has continued to receive funding support from Congress and is using the funds to initiate a five-year YRTC Aftercare Program starting in FY 2023.

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JB Kinlacheeny, MPH, Public Health Advisor – Alcohol and Substance Abuse Lead, Division of Behavioral Health, Office of Clinical and Preventive Services

JB Kinlacheeny, an enrolled member of the Navajo Nation, is the public health advisor –alcohol and substance abuse national lead for the Indian Health Service. Mr. Kinlacheeny is responsible for providing leadership in the administration of the Alcohol and Substance Abuse Program, which aims to reduce the incidence and prevalence of alcohol and substance abuse among American Indians and Alaska Natives. Prior to federal service, he served as the behavioral health epidemiologist at the Navajo Epidemiology Center where he worked closely with federal, state, and tribal leaders by providing technical assistance for the Navajo Nation on issues related to behavioral health.