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Center for Health in Justice Involved Youth

The goal of the Center for Health in Justice Involved Youth is to raise awareness for better mental health services in the community for young people and their families, and to coordinate delivery of those services to ensure the community’s youth have a chance to succeed.

Meet the Director

A photo of Dr. Altha Stewart

Altha J. Stewart, MD, Senior Associate Dean for Community Health Engagement at UT Health Science Center in Memphis is Associate Professor and Chief of Social/Community Psychiatry as well as Director, Center for Health in Justice Involved Youth at UTHSC.  In 2018-19 she served as the 145th President of the American Psychiatric Association, the first African American elected to this position in the 175-year history of the organization.   Prior to joining the faculty at UTHSC, she served as Executive Director of the Memphis/Shelby County System of Care program.  A native of Memphis, Dr. Stewart worked for decades as CEO/Executive Director in large public mental health systems in Pennsylvania, New York, and Michigan.  She received her medical degree from Temple University Medical School and completed her residency at what is now Drexel University.  She has received honorary degrees from Regis College and Christian Brothers University in Memphis.  She is past president of the Black Psychiatrists of America, Association of Women Psychiatrists and American Psychiatric Foundation.  She is the recipient of the Black Psychiatrists of America Lifetime Achievement Award.


Cyndi Starke-Cordero, Program Administrator, 901.448.4239

PCAT-S provides access to trauma screening and referral for trauma-informed services for at risk students to address the factors that lead to toxic stress and ACEs and reduce community and environmental conditions that contribute to ACEs. We work with schools in Frayser to identify chronically absent students and connect the family to trauma informed resources. We offer training for families and community members to lessen the impact of toxic stress and help them understand how to prevent/mitigate effects of ACEs and trauma.

Kena Vassar, Director of Community Initiatives, 901.448.4200

Youth Advocacy Coalition is a diversion program operating on the principles of voluntary, restraint free, trauma informed, and family centered. An interdisciplinary team provides trauma informed screening and individualized service referrals for youth at-risk for justice involvement. The youth must be between the ages of 12-17 with concerning behaviors such as chronic truancy, chronic classroom behavior challenges, multiple suspensions and/or expulsion or documented episodes of bullying, fighting, or gang involvement. It is independent from Juvenile Court and focused on reducing the rate of juvenile detention in Shelby County.

Principles of the center

  1. Voluntary
  2. Restraint-Free
  3. Trauma-Informed
  4. Family-Centered
  5. Independent from the Juvenile Court

What we will provide

  1. Trauma informed screenings
  2. Individualized recommendations for community-based behavioral and trauma-related service referrals
  3. Follow-up services for youth and families

Who can refer to YAC

  1. Youth
  2. Parents
  3. Law enforcement
  4. Schools
  5. Community members


  1. Increase the number of youths diverted from confinement in various parts of the juvenile justice system
  2. Reduce the rate of disproportionate minority contact with the justice system
  3. Increase the number of youth and families connected to needed community-based resources.

Dr. Melody Princes-Kelley, Program Administrator, 901.448.3452 

Wraparound Shelby provides the service delivery infrastructure needed to facilitate increased access to needed services and supports and achieve the positive life outcomes for youth with SED by providing the services, supports, and opportunities they need to thrive in their homes and communities. A Care Team comprised of the MH coordinator and FSS meet regularly with the enrolled child and family, along with MH providers, natural community support systems, schools, and other community agencies to develop and implement individualized service plans based on family driven and youth guided direction to address the needs of the child and family. 

Dr. Rhonda Shaw, Program Administrator, 901.448.4278 

GRASSY-E (Gang Reduction Assistance for Saving Society’s Youth - Enhancement) works with SCS and the Juvenile Justice Board to enhance gang diversion services in Shelby County. The focus of activities is to expand the GRASSY-E model to more schools and add trauma-informed resources and family supports, making the model sustainable beyond the life of the federal grant funded project.

Dr. Rhonda Shaw, Program Administrator, 901.448.4278

Wraparound Frayser provides support for a community organization-based wraparound approach (by Legacy of Legends CDC in Frayser) to serving children impacted by mental illness and trauma. We work directly with school personnel and providers to identify the child's needs, works with the family to ensure those needs are met, and creates a trauma-informed school environment to support the child's emotional well-being and improved academic performance.


Last Published: Jun 8, 2020