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USF to Work with Florida Department of Juvenile Justice to Evaluate and Offer Services for Youth with Traumatic Brain Injuries

CFS Associate Professor Tina Dillahunt-Aspillaga has received a three-year $750,000 grant from the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice (FDJJ) to evaluate and offer services for youth with traumatic brain injuries (TBI). The grant funding is made available through the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) under their FY 2020 Second Chance Act Youth Offender Reentry Program, which awards grants to improve reentry outcomes for incarcerated youth, encouraging collaboration among state agencies, local government, and community- and faith-based organizations.

FDJJ, serving as the lead agency, has subcontracted with the University of South Florida and Dr. Dillahunt-Aspillaga, who carries a number of specialty certifications to work effectively with individuals with TBI and their families/caregivers. Certified as a Rehabilitation Counselor (CRC), a Vocational Evaluator (CVE), a Life Care Planner (CLCP), and as a Brain Injury Specialist Trainer (CBIST), she is knowledgeable about the immediate, as well as short and long-term, needs of persons with TBI and their families/caregivers.

Dr. Dillahunt-Aspillaga will serve as PI at USF while working closely with Sherry Jackson, FDJJ Project Director. Additional partnerships with the Florida Department of Education’s Division of Vocational Rehabilitation, the Youth Opportunity Foundation, Youth Opportunity Investments, and prominent neuropsychology and neurorehabilitation experts will enable youth to be screened and evaluated for the presence of a traumatic brain injury. Youth will receive services while residing at the commitment program and then continue in their home community.

“The goal of creating TBI-focused services is to provide specialized treatment to reduce a youth’s likelihood to reoffend,” said Dr. Dillahunt-Aspillaga.