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North Dakota Youth Correctional Center Named Finalist for the 2021 Barbara Allen-Hagen Award

North Dakota Youth Correctional Center (NDYCC) has been named as a finalist in the correction category for the 2021 PbS Barbara Allen-Hagen Award for developing an enhanced culture of safety and a supportive environment in their facility.

In recent years, NDYCC has focused their improvement efforts on fostering a safe and rehabilitative environment that best serves their youths. In particular, the team turned their attention to reducing the use of restraints by adopting and implementing a model to enhance a culture that prioritized healthy relationships, trust, dignity and respect.

Staff were trained and re-educated on early intervention, de-escalation and prevention methods using elements of the Mandt system to build a professional rapport with youths. Low staff to youth ratios were also implemented ― sometimes as low as one staff to every two youths ― to create ample opportunities for staff-youth engagement, early intervention and active supervision.

Staff discussions around restraints were critical for examining what worked and what didn’t. “’We are obligated to ask ourselves: What could have prevented the use of this restraint? What are the teachable moments for self-regulation, conflict resolution and healthy rapport with staff? How can we prevent this scenario from happening again in the future?’” said Courtney Staub, the site’s quality assurance manager and PbS site coordinator. The team also reduced isolation and found that it also resulted in a reduction in the use of restraints, creating positive outcomes for both youths and staff.

The NDYCC team also made improvements to their intake process to accurately assess and understand each youths’ individual mental, physical and psychological needs. Staff also complete a de-escalation preference form with every youth to identify their individual coping skills, triggers, preference of staff gender when experiencing crisis, any history of trauma and additional input from the youth to ensure their level of comfort and feeling of safety during their stay at NDYCC.

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 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

About the author

Yumi Bonnardeaux

Yumi Bonnardeaux

Yumiko (Yumi) Bonnardeaux joined PbS as Director of Development and Communications in January 2021. For over 13 years, she has worked with corporate, government, industry and nonprofits to develop and execute strategic communications and marketing campaigns across diverse sectors including engineering, health and education. In 2020, she and her family moved from Australia to Boston, where she joined PbS’ team inspired by their commitment and efforts to deliver better outcomes for youths and families connected to the juvenile justice system.

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