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Ferris School Named Finalist for the 2021 Barbara Allen-Hagen Award

Ferris School Block Party Staff Slogan

Ferris School in Wilmington, DE has been named as a finalist in the correction category for the 2021 PbS Barbara Allen-Hagen Award for their impressive work creating a safer environment for staff and young people in their care.

A thorough review of their data collected in PbS over a couple of years enabled the Facility Improvement Plan (FIP) team at Ferris School to identify areas where they could reduce assaults, fights and improve staff and youth safety. The team went right to work on the buy-in portion of the FIP by laying the foundation of trust and transparency. They first implemented a system for staff to provide anonymous and honest feedback along with the reassurance that their concerns would be listened to and addressed.

The challenges brought on by the pandemic amplified the importance of safety for all at the facility and the need to feel supported and connected. The team at Ferris School took on each challenge and found opportunities to improve their approach to make their staff and youths feel secure and engaged. Staff devised ways that youths could receive positive recognition and extra incentives for following new safety and hygiene protocols. The team also ensured that every young person was able to connect with their family on a weekly basis using tools such as FaceTime and Google Duo and quickly created ways to deliver remote learning, with many of the staff learning and adapting to new digital tools. With an emphasis on safety, strategic improvements were made to staff training processes and the Morale Committee developed a number of staff appreciation programs and morale boosting events. Additionally, Superintendent Tanya Banks convened two building-wide forums to give staff an opportunity to openly discuss and share their thoughts and feelings on the current social and political themes taking place in the country, in addition to the hardships they were experiencing with the pandemic.

The team at Ferris School plans to continue to encourage open dialogue with all team members to sustain the positive changes. Site Coordinator George Iannetta says one of the things he is most proud of is: “The fact that we were able to maintain some sense of normalcy within this building and our residence during this abnormal time in the world.”

Ferris School Employee Prize Patrol

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

Patricia Seekell

Patricia Seekell is a project manager for the PbS Learning Institute, a member of our Help Desk team who also coordinates special projects including training and technical assistance and the development of the reentry measurement standards.

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