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Checking in with the PbS Community

How are you all?


I hope this finds you, your families and the youths and staff in your facility healthy, safe and managing the COVID-19 pandemic as best possible. The PbS team thanks you for continuing the work, in facilities and at home, to serve young people in the juvenile justice system. We’ve heard stories from across the country of illnesses and loss of life as well as creativity and joy. Please keep sharing – it helps all of us feel connected and supported.


Thank you also to those of you who are working to collect data for the April improvement cycle amidst the difficulties due to the pandemic. We know that safety and health are your top priorities. Congratulations to the almost two-thirds of our secure facilities and community residential programs who are nearing completion of data entry in time for the May 22 deadline. Everyone: please know that PbS Coaches, the PbS Help Desk and the rest of our team are available to help whenever you need or are ready. Please remember PbS data is to help you achieve better outcomes for youths, staff and families – there is no pass/fail judgment or score. It is just information and paints a picture of a single point in time. Right now, we hope the data will be helpful to plan for any future emergencies or pandemics.


We expect to see significant changes to many practices and outcomes in the April data reflecting the suspended programs, services and visitation, stay-at-home orders, staff shortages, reduced populations and everyone’s general unease during this time of uncertainty. We are planning to write a report to describe the impact of the pandemic using both the PbS national-level data and individual stories shared from the field. Our purpose is to show the challenges posed and how they were overcome or not, to highlight alternative approaches to things like safety, education, programs, activities and visitation and to recognize the creativity and bravery shown by staff. Please let your Coach know or contact me directly if you or someone else you know is willing to be interviewed for a story we can share.


The PbS office staff have been working from home since March 13 and we spend a lot of time meeting via video, asking quick questions in Microsoft Teams and juggling children, spouses and pets as we work but we stay connected and it helps. The Coaches’ travel is very limited right now but they can connect via video, though you may have to coax them to turn on their cameras! This week the governor of our home state of Massachusetts announced a four-phase plan to begin re-opening businesses and services beginning the week of May 18, but it’s unclear what that means for PbS. Our move to new office space originally scheduled for June 1 has been delayed, hopefully only until July. We have been discussing options for the August in-person PbS Agency Coordinators Training, our 25th Anniversary celebration and Awards Night and are postponing the June National PbS Day. We are sending a survey (to collect our data) before making our final decisions. As seems to be the phrase of the times: We just don’t know what’s next, it changes every day.


Stay home, stay healthy and stay in touch.




About the author



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.