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2020 PbS Barbara Allen-Hagen Award Winner Spotlight: McLaughlin Youth Center

Performance-based Standards (PbS) is very pleased to announce McLaughlin Youth Center (MYC) in Anchorage, AK as the winner of the 2020 PbS Barbara Allen-Hagen Award in the correction category. MYC was selected as a winner for their comprehensive plan to reduce fear for safety.

Following multiple data collections with PbS Staff Climate Survey results showing a high level of fear for safety, management knew it was time for a change. They knew improvements would require a lot of staff input and must include unit programming and behavior management training in order to be successful.

In addition to monthly staff meetings, unit leaders met with staff individually to discuss specific concerns. Superintendents also joined monthly staff meetings to be more involved. Individual meetings really helped to gather information from all staff about concerns and progress through the changes. Trust was built in a new way and there was a notable shift away from staff feeling as though they were being managed from an “ivory tower.”

While an increase to communication between leadership and staff was a key to MYC’s success, the facility team implemented new trainings about trauma. They implemented the Trauma-Informed Effective Reinforcement System (TIERs) program on girls’ units and cross-trained on other units. Training of secondary trauma, symptoms, effects and supportive services available were provided to all line staff and trainings on the Control Tactics behavior management system were completed and implemented.

Additionally, policies around safety and security are under frequent review at monthly staff meetings. Improvements were made to existing programs and new trainings were added, including a Verbal Judo de-escalation curriculum for staff.

With all of the changes and improvements to training and communication, MYC is seeing less staff turnover, fewer assaults involving staff and the lowest rates of staff fear for safety in over a decade.

Congratulations to the team at McLaughlin Youth Center. Read our blog for more about the 2020 winners and finalists.

The PbS Barbara Allen-Hagen Award was established in 2007 to honor Barbara Allen-Hagen and her retirement from the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP). Her dedication to improving the quality of life in facilities for young people has helped drive PbS to its current success. The award is given to a correction, detention/assessment and community program who best exemplify PbS’ commitment to treating all youths as one of our own by developing and implementing strategic plans to change practices that results in positive outcomes for youths, staff and families.

Read more about:  Awards, Barbara Allen-Hagen

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PbS measures and monitors facility practices by collecting and reporting data from administrative records and survey responses from youths, staff and families to provide a holistic picture of the conditions and quality of life in residential facilities, highlights the practices that are effective in promoting youths’ healthy maturation and identifies those that are not. PbS data is reported every April and October.  PbS trains staff to use the information to change practices and support reforms implementing the adolescent development approach.

PbS has been a partner in assisting this facility to become a dynamic work environment that is not satisfied with maintaining the status quo.