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Ferris School Named Finalist for PbS Barbara Allen-Hagen Award

Performance-based Standards (PbS) is very pleased to announce Ferris School for Boys in Wilmington, DE as one of the finalists for the 2023 PbS Barbara Allen-Hagen Award in the correction category.

As part of the ongoing efforts at the Ferris School to reduce uses of isolation and restraints, the PbS team developed “CARE” teams to make sure the young people had someone to talk to during the critical times when behaviors and actions can escalate and they were most likely to end up in isolation and restraints. Watching the numbers of isolation and restraints decline, they decided to create a Facility Improvement Plan (FIP) to make sure young people had someone to talk to when they return home.

The Ferris School is located in Wilmington, DE and has an average daily population of 30 young men who stay an average of 180 days. It is the state’s only secure care facility for adjudicated young people. Over the years they have consistently stayed below the PbS field average with few uses of both isolation and restraints. They developed CARE teams for each young person at Ferris School to connect them right away with supportive people who can help them at critical times and help them develop skills so they can be successful when they return to their community. Each young person chooses the members of their CARE team. They can choose staff all areas of the building and shifts as well as from community services. CARE teams include psychologists, recreation and security staff, treatment specialists, supervisors, teachers and their families and social supports.

In April 2021, 100% of young people at Ferris School responding to the PbS Youth Climate Survey said they had had at least one person at home or in the community they will talk to when they need to talk or need help working out a problem. This FIP was started after seeing a slight drop in April 2022 and the site saw immediate success in their October 2022 and April 2023 climate survey data.

Ferris School’s PbS team is a model for the field, with representation from all areas within the facility. They embraced the initiative, accessed local and national resources, conducted incident reviews with staff and trained staff on policy changes to support the FIP goal. They engaged family and community supports, including Youth Advocacy Program to come to the facility to attend meetings to help the young people with their programmatic goals. “We still thrive on building positive relationships within Ferris,” wrote George Iannetta, PbS Site Coordinator.

Congratulations to the team at Ferris School: Superintendent Tanya Banks, Site Coordinator George Iannetta and Director Renee Ciconte. Keep up the great work!

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 annually 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:  Awards, 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.