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Mat-Su Youth Detention Facility Named Finalist for the 2020 Barbara Allen-Hagen Award

Performance-based Standards (PbS) is very pleased to announce Mat-Su Youth Detention Facility in Palmer, AK as one of the finalists for the 2020 PbS Barbara Allen-Hagen Award in the detention category. Mat-Su was selected as a finalist for their impressive plan to improve emergency response efforts.

Located in an area with an increased potential for natural disasters, a review of the facility “Continuity of Operations Plan” inspired a plan to update it. The team chose to focus on response training and emergency supplies. Staff including nursing, maintenance, administration, probation and line staff, were all on board and engaged in brainstorming. They formed a workgroup to carry out the steps for planning and implementation developed using PbS’ facility improvement planning process.

Not only did the facility work to purchase emergency supplies including blankets, alternate means for cooking, emergency radio and a 3-day supply of water and freeze dried food, but they signed up for an experiential mock drill, the “Great Alaskan Shake Out,” to put their plan to the test. A month after the mock drill, a 7.1 magnitude earthquake hit their region. Staff and youths knew exactly what to do.

With real events validating the necessity – and success – of their efforts, the facility team is focused on sustaining the progress made and will continue to require an annual interactive scenario based training, annual inventory of all emergency supplies and frequent safety and security discussions at staff meetings. Additionally, staff were encouraged to create emergency plans for themselves and loved ones.

Stay tuned for more blogs about the 2020 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 offenders 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.

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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.