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Hartford Juvenile Detention Center Selected as Finalist for the 2022 PbS Barbara Allen-Hagen Award

A finalist in the detention and assessment category for the 2022 Barbara Allen-Hagen Award, Hartford Juvenile Detention Center (HJDC) decided to focus on safety when the team analyzed data from outcome measures and noticed a significant increase in staff fear beginning in the spring of 2018. By October of 2018, half of the staff population reported fearing for their safety within the facility, requiring immediate intervention.

A swell in the facility’s population had resulted in an increase in conflicts among residents, leading to incidents involving restraints. A series of events including layoffs and legislation requiring HJDC to take responsibility for post-adjudicated young people made the challenge of reducing staff fear considerable. Lacking a physical location for the post-adjudicated young people, a detention center was created to house young people awaiting a court hearing. Many staff members had justified concerns as to how they would adequately work with and support the new population of young people. HJDC was faced with low staff morale and high burnout rates.

The HJDC team sought input and feedback from staff at all positions within the center to formalize a plan on how to reduce levels of fear. Recognizing that when staff do not feel safe, neither do the young people in their care, the team decided to on-board new per diem staff to reduce burnout. To support the new per-diem staff, positions were created to provide coaching, supervision and validation.

A Safety Committee focused on staff wellness and ongoing training, using data from the Staff Climate Survey to inform decision-making. Per diem workers eased overtime and double shifts and an employee recognition program was launched to celebrate and applaud staff efforts and success. Additionally, the team created a Youth Council to focus on responses from the Youth Climate Survey, effectively listening to what young people had to say, which in turn, created better communication throughout the facility.

HJDC met their commitment to reduce fear and currently has a newly invigorated team. They have incorporated post-adjudicated young people into the building in a separate unit, developed programs to support them throughout their stay and provided staff training to serve young people with longer stays.

Congratulations to the team at HJDC! We applaud your efforts and success in developing and implementing improvements that resulted in positive outcomes for both young people and staff.

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 every young person as one of our own by developing and implementing strategic plans aimed at creating positive outcomes for young people, staff and families.

Read more about:  Barbara Allen-Hagen

About the author

Kim Godfrey Lovett

Kim Godfrey Lovett

Kim is the executive director of the PbS Learning Institute. Kim was hired when CJCA incorporated in 1994 and has worked since it's inception to create the PbS system of continuous improvement to help facilities and agencies raise the quality of life and better conditions of confinement in youth facilities nationwide. She earned two master’s degrees: in journalism (Northwestern University) and criminal justice (Northeastern University.) She worked as a newspaper reporter for seven years prior to joining CJCA.

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