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Former DYS Youth Operates a Very Successful Company and Employs DYS Youth on Parole


Cincinnati native Tim Arnold runs a successful landscaping and home renovation company. The former DYS youth is proud of another achievement: his ability to employ DYS youth on parole and empower them with the skills and knowledge so that they can be successful in the workforce as well.

In 2008, Arnold started his landscaping business, Lawn Life, a not-for-profit company that depends on donations and grants. It’s a unique operation that has a clear mission: Provide disconnected youth with an opportunity to gain real-work experience and transferrable skills.

Donations and grants help cover expenses, employee training and equipment.

Since 2008, a total of 480 teenagers have been on the payroll at Lawn Life, including DYS youth. “The kids really respect the job. They feel empowered,” said Arnold.

While Arnold is a success story himself, he is quick to share the many success stories of the youth he employs.

When Lawn Life was getting off the ground, a teenager saw Arnold at a gas station and asked him for $1. Instead of just handing over some money, Arnold told the boy he could earn $10 by cutting the lawn of a nearby home that Arnold was renovating. The teenager accepted and Arnold paid him $10 an hour.

“It was his first job ever; his pride in that alone brought out a completely different side of him. He was motivated and intrinsically wanted to work hard,” Arnold said. The youth went on to work at Proctor and Gamble, a Fortune 500 company.

During the past six years, Arnold’s business has exploded, from 30 to 300 lawns a week and he has landscaping operations in Cincinnati, Cleveland and Columbus.

Currently, about ten DYS youth on parole are employed at the company, learning a trade, earning a paycheck and opening bank accounts for the first time.

Lawn Life, however, offers youth more than just a paycheck, Arnold said. His teenage employees learn about customer service, sales and completing jobs with attention to detail. “When they (youth) come to Lawn Life, I hope I am building their character.”

Arnold does not hesitate to hire DYS youth. He is eager to give them a chance because he was once a DYS youth himself.

From 1992-1996, Arnold was at various facilities, including Circleville Juvenile Correctional Facility, Lighthouse Youth Center at Paint Creek and the now-closed Riverview Juvenile Correctional Facility.

After 27 adjudications, Arnold decided to turn his life around. He was 18 at the time and working at a steel mill. “I just decided to apply myself to the job,” he said, “not just fill out an application, but really apply myself.” Eventually, promotions and raises came his way. With the extra money, he paid off thousands in credit card and student loan debt.

After putting himself through real estate school, Arnold decided to renovate homes on the side. His first purchase was in Cincinnati for $30,000. After three months of hard work, he sold it for $80,000. While most people would be inclined to spend the profits, he took the money and purchased more homes to renovate and sell.

Arnold isn’t flipping houses anymore, but he is still in the home renovation business, completing about 15 a year. The work is done entirely by youth under the supervision of professional tradespeople.

After nearly five years at the steel mill and several wise real estate investments, Arnold knew it was time for him to follow his “purpose in life.” Lawn Life came into the landscaping scene in 2008.

The landscaping company offers youth many entry-level opportunities, from cutting grass to earning more job responsibility, to eventually working full-time.

Today, Arnold is married and has three daughters. His two older daughters assist him with the business. “My girls work circles around the boys,” he said with a chuckle.

Arnold says he will continue to grow his business and instill a positive work ethic in youth that is reflected in his company slogan: “Persistently pursuing perfection.”

I commend Tim Arnold for pursuing success while dedicating his time to our youth on parole. Tim’s story should be a reminder to all of us of the DYS vision: A safer Ohio: one youth, one family and one community at a time.

This article originally appeared in the September 2014 Director's Monthly Brief.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014 at 10:12 AM

Finalist Spotlight: Wernle Youth and Family Treatment Center


Every year, facilities across the country submit applications for the Barbara Allen-Hagen (BAH) Award, which honors a correction, detention and community program who successfully use Performance-based Standards’ (PbS) national standards and self-improvement process to achieve positive outcomes for youths, staff and families.

PbS is pleased to announce Wernle Youth and Family Treatment Center in Richmond, IN as one of the three finalists in the community category. Wernle Youth and Family Treatment Center was selected as a finalist for their Improvement Plan to ensure the safety and security of the youths and staff by reducing the number of incidents at the program.

Wernle Youth and Family Treatment Center recognized that the number of incidents at the program was far greater than the average of similar community programs. When the team reviewed the data, they realized that one of the units was causing a large portion of the incidents. To address the issue, the program instituted a critical incident review team who meet to review all incidents each morning. The data is then reported weekly to the leadership team and subsequently to the Board of Directors. The program has also allocated additional staff to the unit causing the incidents. Moving forward, the program plans to continue the daily reviews, provide additional staff when necessary and ensure training opportunities for staff.

Wernle Youth and Family Treatment Center notes that the improvement process has helped each department work together to reach a common goal and the PbS process has driven the program to “our most sacred change—providing the best environment possible for our residents.”

The BAH Award was established in 2007 to honor Barbara-Allen Hagen and her retirement from the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP). Barbara’s dedication to improving the quality of life in facilities for young offenders has helped drive PbS to its current success. Winners of the award in the corrections, detention/assessment and community categories will be announced the night of the ceremony on Oct. 2, 2014. Stay tuned for more blogs about the finalists.

This article was retrieved from the CJCA blog.

Thursday, September 4, 2014 at 9:47 AM

PbS Participants Help Youths Get Outdoors and Stay Active


The summer months are a great time to get outdoors and stay active. Performance-based Standards (PbS) participants have shared some of the ways they get their youths outside, from boot camps to gardening.

In 2012, N.A. Chaderjian Youth Correctional Facility in California implemented an annual five week Boot Camp challenge program, designed to build strength and fitness through a variety of intense group intervals. The program begins outdoors with running and then heads inside to the gym for bodyweight exercises like squats and push-ups, as well as competitive games. The program helps the youths increase strength, improve cardiovascular efficiency and develop an exercise routine. In addition, the youths can socialize as they exercise and many make friends over the course of the program.

Three years ago, the Upstate Evaluation Center in South Carolina began a garden project where the youths attend to five plant beds. The project has grown and this summer, youths and staff harvested 14 vegetable beds. Each day, about five youths are selected to help maintain the garden. They enjoy time to get outside and soak in the sunshine, keep physically active and help grow fresh produce. Several of the youths even assisted a staff member in building a produce stand!

Madison Juvenile Correctional Facility in Indiana held a facility-wide celebration in recognition of achieving the highest level in PbS. The celebration, which had a theme of a Hawaiian luau, allowed staff and students to participate in coconut bowling, trike races, corn hole and many other activities. Additionally, both staff and youth enjoyed the delicious pulled pork, rice, baked beans and pineapple upside down cake.

The Outdoor Therapeutic Program (OTP) provides numerous activities for youths in the Idaho Department of Juvenile Corrections (IDJC). In addition to community service opportunities such as trail maintenance and snow removal, the program offers a challenge course that helps the youths learn problem-solving and teamwork skills. The youths also have the opportunity to participate in hiking, biking, swimming and canoeing. Recently, Juvenile Corrections Center-St. Anthony hosted a group of IDJC youths from a county detention center for a 3-day camp experience at Horseshoe Lake.

Youths at Larned Juvenile Correctional Facility (LJCF) in Kansas participated in the annual Summer Fun Day on July 24. The event featured a water balloon toss, dunk tank, watermelon eating contest and a tug of war. LJCF also provided the opportunity for several youths to learn techniques for a successful barbeque. Youths were placed on teams and learned how to select meat, prepare the cuts, use a smoker and then presented the finished product to a panel of judges. Several youths also participated in a 5K run through the running club at the Kansas Juvenile Correctional Complex.

STAR Academy in South Dakota provides many outdoor activities for the youths. One of the favorites is the challenge course, available at both the male and female campuses. The youths can choose what level they are comfortable participating in any of the activities including teambuilding activities, zip line, leap of faith, indoor rock wall and rappelling. Another popular outdoor activity is the off-campus “Outdoor Campus,” which provides education about outdoor skills, wildlife, conservation and management practices of South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks. The youths enjoyed learning about catching, cleaning and cooking rainbow trout, as well as kayaking and canoeing.

Youths from the Lincoln Hills School (LHS) in Wisconsin participated in the Law Enforcement Torch Run for Special Olympics earlier this summer. Youths and staff ran eleven miles after training for about three months 5-6 days a week. The youths set goals in finishing the race, finishing in a certain time and not letting themselves stop and walk. After the training, some of the youths say they hope to keep running throughout their lives and continue training for other races!

Thanks to all the PbS facilities who shared how they get youths outdoors and staying active!

This article was retrieved from the CJCA blog.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014 at 10:54 AM

Finalist Spotlight: Cache Valley Youth Center


Every year, facilities across the country submit applications for the Barbara Allen-Hagen (BAH) Award, which honors a correction, detention and community program who successfully use Performance-based Standards’ (PbS) national standards and self-improvement process to achieve positive outcomes for youths, staff and families.

PbS is pleased to announce Cache Valley Youth Center in Logan, UT as one of the three finalists in the detention category. Cache Valley Youth Center was selected as a finalist for their Facility Improvement Plan (FIP) to improve community engagement by increasing the number of programs that use community volunteers.

The facility realized in Oct. 2013 that only 25% of their facility programs were utilizing community volunteers and wanted to increase the number to 80% by April 2014. In order to understand the current level of volunteer involvement, documentation forms were added to daily logs to reflect the number of volunteers coming into the facility and how many activities the volunteers were providing. The facility team also utilized volunteer skill sets such as speaking Spanish. Youths felt very comfortable using Spanish when discussing concerns with volunteers and volunteers became more invested in spending time with the youths. Community volunteers were also invited to be a part of the facility team, which has resulted in closer working relationships. All of the facility’s efforts have helped them exceed their goal and in April 2014, 100% of facility programs engage community volunteers.

The BAH Award was established in 2007 to honor Barbara-Allen Hagen and her retirement from the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP). Barbara’s dedication to improving the quality of life in facilities for young offenders has helped drive PbS to its current success. Winners of the award in the corrections, detention/assessment and community categories will be announced the night of the ceremony on Oct. 2, 2014. Stay tuned for more blogs about the finalists.

This article was retrieved from the CJCA blog.

Thursday, August 28, 2014 at 11:33 AM

SC Juvenile Justice Plans Community Service Projects


The S.C. Department of Juvenile Justice and youth under its supervision are performing community service projects to help counter the harmful impact that crime has on a community.

The statewide effort is inspired by a concept called “Restorative Juvenile Justice.”

Spartanburg County youth are holding a food drive to benefit Mobile Meals recipients.

Jennifer Clarke, regional administrator for the Department of Juvenile Justice, said around 470 pounds of food were collected four years ago during a similar project.

“I would love to beat that goal,” Clarke said.

She said all donations are welcome.

People and businesses who wish to donate canned goods and other nonperishable items can drop them off at two locations. Donations are being accepted at the Department of Juvenile Justice Spartanburg office at 200 Library St. and the main lobby of the Spartanburg County Courthouse at 180 Magnolia St.

Youth will deliver Mobile Meals twice a week during September. Items donated through the food drive will be given to Mobile Meals recipients.

This article was retrieved from GoUpstate.com.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014 at 2:57 PM

Finalist Spotlight: STAR East Campus


Every year, facilities across the country submit applications for the Barbara Allen-Hagen (BAH) Award, which honors a correction, detention and community program who successfully use Performance-based Standards’ (PbS) national standards and self-improvement process to achieve positive outcomes for youths, staff and families.

PbS is pleased to announce STAR East Campus in Custer, South Dakota as one of the three finalists in the correction category. STAR East Campus was selected as a finalist for their Facility Improvement Plan (FIP) to improve safety at the facility by addressing the number of injuries to youths.

Back in Oct. 2009, STAR East Campus recorded 22 injuries to youths, around four times higher than the field average. The staff realized that consistency and proactive measures needed to be a part of the culture in order to reduce recreational and self-harming injuries. As a result, STAR East Campus made several improvements including conducting daily wellness safety briefs, inspecting sporting equipment, installing new flooring in the gym and hanging posters about warming-up before exercising. To address self-harming injuries, staff received trauma training to understand how trauma can affect brain development and motivational interviewing to build rapport with the girls. Additionally, the facility implemented guided meditation and youths have even used the relaxation techniques in other areas of their programming! All of these changes helped STAR East Campus eliminate both recreational and self-harming injuries in the April 2014 data collection.

The BAH Award was established in 2007 to honor Barbara-Allen Hagen and her retirement from the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP). Barbara’s dedication to improving the quality of life in facilities for young offenders has helped drive PbS to its current success. Winners of the award in the corrections, detention/assessment and community categories will be announced the night of the ceremony on Oct. 2, 2014. Stay tuned for more blogs about the finalists.

This article was retrieved from the CJCA blog.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014 at 11:26 AM

Congratulations to the 2014 PbS Barbara Allen-Hagen Award Finalists


The PbS Learning Institute (PbS Li) is proud to announce the finalists for the 2014 PbS Barbara Allen Hagen Award recognizing facilities for young offenders that best exemplify the Performance-based Standards (PbS) program’s commitment to treating all youths in custody as one of our own. The finalists were selected from nearly 40 high-quality applications from across the country that achieved positive outcomes for youths, staff and families by measuring and monitoring daily practices and services using PbS' data-driven improvement model. The finalists addressed significant challenges to operating youth facilities including changing culture to be more youth-focused and less punitive, engaging families and social supports, introducing trauma-informed approaches to increase youths’ safety and innovative approaches to turn around young lives.

The 2014 PbS Barbara Allen-Hagen Award Finalists are:

Correction Facility Category:

Madison Juvenile Correctional Facility, Madison, IN

STAR East Campus, Custer, SD

Worcester Secure Treatment, Westborough, MA

Detention and Assessment Centers Category:

Cache Valley Youth Center, Logan, UT

Center for Human Development Assessment Program, Springfield, MA

Youth Opportunity Center-Detention, Muncie, IN

Community-based Residential Programs Category:

Bennington School-Boys, Bennington, VT

Ruth Meiers Adolescent Treatment Center, Grand Forks, ND

Wernle Youth and Family Treatment Center, Richmond, IN

One winner in each category will be selected and honored at a national awards ceremony Oct. 2 in Chicago.

“Every single application we received showed remarkable dedication to aligning daily facility practices with the most recent research on adolescent development, trauma-informed care and strengthening connections with family and community,” said PbS Li Executive Director Kim Godfrey. “This shows the great work and reform efforts underway across the country. I applaud all the applicants and all PbS facilities working to provide safe, healthy and effective rehabilitation services and programs.”

PbS is a data-driven improvement model that identifies, monitors and improves conditions of confinement and treatment services in residential facilities and programs using national standards and performance outcome measures. Agencies, facilities and programs in over 30 states currently volunteer to participate and commit to treating all youths in custody as one of our own. PbS builds performance improvement and accountability into agency, facility and program operations using a three-part cycle of activities: collecting data, analyzing the performance outcomes and summary data reports and the heart of PbS: using the data to create improvement and reforms.

PbS was launched by the Department of Justice (DOJ), Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention specifically to address safety, health and quality of life issues in youth facilities identified as problematic in the 1994 Conditions of Confinement Study. PbS’ primary purpose is to provide facility leaders and staff with national standards to guide operations to best serve youths, staff and families and to continuously monitor daily practices and culture within facilities with performance outcome measures. Over time, PbS uniquely has established uniform data definitions, outcome measures and a quality assurance process that creates the most timely, comprehensive and accurate national database of its kind.

In 2004, PbS was a winner of the Innovations in American Government Award by the Ash Institute for Democratic Governance and Innovation at Harvard University for uniquely and effectively improving conditions of confinement and the quality of life in facilities for young offenders.

For more information please visit the PbS website or contact Executive Director Kim Godfrey at 781-843-2663.

Friday, August 15, 2014 at 11:41 AM

Youths in Washington Get Involved with their Community


Many Performance-based Standards (PbS) participants have great projects to get their youths involved with the community from gardening to park maintenance. Echo Glen Children’s Center in Washington offers youths numerous ways to give back and help those in need.

Earlier this year, staff and youths participated in Bikes for Kids community service project. They spent four hours helping to prepare over 500 bikes which will be sent to Africa. Stephanie Ewing, program manager, said “I have always been a strong believer in giving back to the community and was very excited for the youth to be a part of this project.” One staff member said that the day working on the bike project was one her favorite days working at Echo Glen.

Over 40 youths from Echo Glen helped to package meals which were shipped to children in need in Africa and the Caribbean as part of the Children of the Nations program. Fraser Ratzlaff, an area representative from the program, said “it was so great to see everyone working together to serve children in need around the world!”

Not only do youths package meals to be sent internationally, they help prepare and serve meals locally for feeding the homeless and residents of Compass Center. The youths also delivered meals to those who couldn’t make it to the center. One youth said “One of the highlights of the trip was seeing the hope on the faces of the homeless. I felt like they knew that there would be good coming to their future. I liked to help people, it was cool. I felt powerful and proud of myself and others for giving out food and hope.”

Youth getting out into the community is important, but Echo Glen also brings community members to the youths. Youths will often request to remove unwanted tattoos, which are symbols of their gang affiliations. A TeamChild Representative who became aware of the facility’s need, suggested Dr. Debbie Caddell of Cadell’s Laser Clinic. When the facility reached out to Dr. Caddell, she expressed her eagerness to help the residents and now donates her time for this special service.

Thanks to Echo Glen who shared all the amazing community service stories, which teach the youths new skills and shows them the value of helping their community! Check out the community service projects from other PbS participants.

This article was retrieved from the CJCA blog.

Thursday, July 31, 2014 at 10:43 AM

PbS Participants Help Youths Give Back to the Community


Getting involved with community service projects can be an invaluable experience for youths. It keeps youths engaged in healthy activities, teaches them new skills and shows how they can make a difference. To celebrate the importance of community service, Performance-based Standards (PbS) participants have shared some of the amazing projects that their youths are participating in from gardening to maintaining and cleaning local parks.

Youths at STAR Academy in South Dakota help Custer State Park by cleaning campground bathrooms and rest areas, repairing fences and working at the buffalo corrals. In addition to the work for the park, the youths assist the town of Custer on many activities. For example, the youths have painted the exterior of the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) building, assisted in building a community garden and set up for an annual rummage sale. The youths also help set up for specific events like the National VFW conference, the Miss South Dakota pageant and 4th of July festivities. The youths are excited to help, with one youth stating “it was great to see that our help was appreciated.”

Community service is a vital part of the programming at Logansport Juvenile Correctional Facility, which conducts several community service projects throughout the year. Youths have helped paint the American Legion, refurbish wheelchairs for the Wheel LIFE program, made hats and scarves to donate to the local mission center, stocked the Salvation Army food pantry and conducted a food drive for Real Hope for Haiti.

The Ohio Department of Youth Services facilities take advantage of the summer through gardening initiatives. At the Indian River Juvenile Correctional Facility and Circleville Juvenile Correctional Facility, youths grow a variety of vegetables including peppers, onion, corn, squash and beans, which are donated to local non-profit organizations and families in need. Youths at Cuyahoga Hills Juvenile Correctional Facility learn about plant identification, basic greenhouse operations, garden maintenance and retail and wholesale marketing. They donate produce to a food bank and sell some at a local farmer’s market to help fund the gardening program.

The Kenneth “Honey” Rubenstein Juvenile Center in West Virginia provides youths with numerous community service projects each year. Youths at the facility assist with general maintenance of parks, set up for festivals and help senior citizen programs by serving meals, removing snow and visiting residents. After every community service project, staff help the youths reflect on things they learned that day and what they accomplished as a group in order to help them understand why community involvement is important.

Thanks to all the PbS facilities who shared how they get youth involved with their community! Stay tuned to see what community service programs Washington offers their youths.

This article was retrieved from the CJCA blog.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014 at 11:30 AM

Educating Youths in the Juvenile Justice System


Education is an integral component of programming for youths in the juvenile justice system. The education program can provide youths with better opportunities and a brighter future by helping youths improve reading abilities, gain life skills, earn school credits or even a high school or college degree. Performance-based Standards (PbS) is proud to share how our participants are educating youths and helping them succeed.

The school at STAR Academy in South Dakota offers numerous courses including building trades, welding, OSHA safety, computer applications and personal finance. The school receives a grant through Title I, which allows Title I staff to work directly with students with deficiencies in reading and math. Previously, the school was classified as a Target-Assisted Title program, which meant that Title I staff could only work with students identified as two or more grade levels below where they should be. In a collaborative effort with numerous departments at STAR Academy, the school was changed to an Institutional-Wide Title program. Title I staff can now help any student who needs additional assistance. As a result of the education program, all thirteen students who took the GED in May passed the test(s) they had taken. For the fifteen students who left in May, there was an average grade-level gain of 1.71 years in reading and a phenomenal grade-level gain of 1.98 years in math!

In May, two youths from the Larned Juvenile Correctional Facility (LJCF) in Kansas earned an associate of arts in general studies from Barton Community College (BCC). One of the youths, Austin Brownell, realized that he had acquired quite a few college credits and inquired about earning an associate degree while at LJCF. At first, he was told he wouldn’t be able to since all of the courses he needed were not offered, but through a collaboration between LJCF and BCC, the necessary courses were provided through a site-specific online structure.

The Kansas Department of Corrections (KDOC) juvenile services recently implemented iGRAD, a Keys for Networking program, which helps track school placement history and secure records in an online database to ease communication between schools and providers. In the case of one juvenile who was moved 26 times during her high school career, there was an obvious need for this tool that helps youths stay on track when they switch between schools.

The school at Logansport Juvenile Correctional Facility has figured out a system that works; they average 1,150 earned school credits and graduate 110 to 125 students with the GED each year. With over 60% of special education students in each classroom, all teachers have dual licenses—one in special education and one in the subject they are teaching. Every student is on an individualized education program based on their needs and are evaluated every two weeks. Students with their GED take classes to prepare them for when they leave including classes in personal finance, adult roles in life and college preparation. They also attend classes in copper cabling and receive certification from C-tech, a company based in New Jersey, which helps them seek employment from local cable companies.

Thanks to all the PbS participants who shared information about their education programs!

This article was retrieved from the CJCA blog.

Monday, June 30, 2014 at 11:40 AM

Nome Youth Facility Brings Together a Youth and His Family


The Nome Youth Facility is located in Northwest Alaska in the town of Nome. The Nome Youth Facility is a 14 bed detention facility operated by the Alaska Division of Juvenile Justice. This facility serves the communities Nome and Kotzebue and the surrounding 23 Inupiaq or Yupik Eskimo Villages. Located along the Bering Sea Coast there are no roads connecting Nome to the outside world. Only air and water transportation provide the necessary goods for this community of nearly 4,000 to exist in a modern world. Due to these logistic challenges the cost of living is very expensive, heating oil can cost up to $11 per gallon and gasoline can cost up to $10 dollars per gallon.

In February of 2013, the Nome Youth Facility received a 14 year old boy from the Village of Kobuk. This village is over 350 air miles and two plane rides away. This young man, now age 15, has been in and out of his own home for the past six years. He has been in Anchorage, AK for mental health stabilization treatment, placed in a group home in Anchorage and has been in long term residential treatment in Texas. Access to treatment in his home village is inconsistent and sometimes completely unavailable due to the remoteness, travel/cost and the availability of itinerant mental health clinicians. We are striving to keep him in the State of Alaska as close as possible to his family and his culture.

In an effort to bring the youth together with his family, we worked on a request for the travel expenses for his mother and sister to visit. The cost of airfare and two nights lodging would be nearly $1,800. Thankfully, our State Office in Anchorage approved the request and the resident’s family members traveled to Nome to visit with him. During the visit the resident and his family shared meals together, played board games, watched movies and he even taught them how to play ping pong! Our resident’s favorite part of the visit was spending valuable time talking to his mom and sister about all of the events that have happened in Kobuk since his departure. His mother shared stories of his family and extended family. The visit was a success! It is just amazing what the power of family can do to the spirit! As professionals and caretakers of youth, we have to remember that most of our youths love and miss their families and we must do all we can to support and sustain these emotional connections.

It was emotionally difficult for our resident after his family departed, but eventually he began to see the family visit as a positive experience. He shared his experience with the staff and the other residents. While he told his stories he radiated a pride for his family, his culture and the village that helped raise him. We could not begin to put a price tag on the smile that showed on his face as a result of two days with his family.

This article was retrieved from the CJCA blog.

Thursday, June 26, 2014 at 11:41 AM

Creating Transparency and Trust with PbS Data


The Greene County Juvenile Detention Center in Missouri is reaching out to families and the community and increasing transparency by using Performance-based Standards (PbS) to share and support the work that is being done.

Greene County includes PbS outcome data that is of interest to key stakeholders in the annual report, enhancing what may typically be viewed as an administrative report limited only to statistics, demographics, fiscal, and program information. The enhanced report is used as a vehicle to further inform and engage families and the community. Since evidence and experience indicate youth outcomes improve when their families and other social supports are viewed as partners, focusing on this data can ultimately help improve outcomes for youths.

Greene County’s annual report is produced through the collaborative efforts of representatives from all units of family and juvenile court operations. Each year volunteer staff, supervisory staff and line staff take the lead in producing a report that is as visually captivating and informative as possible, since experience has shown that the more pictures, graphs and youth artwork the more widely the report will be read.

The 2013 Annual Report combined PbS data, already being used to inform administrators and staff and to continuously improve operations, services and programming, with other annual report information. The result was a family friendly report available to the public. For example, rather than simply saying that the facility has phone calls and visits on a regular basis, the report provided the percentage of youth who say on their PbS survey they actually had a phone call or visit. Other information cited from PbS surveys and reports included the percentage of youth who report that when they leave detention they will talk to family if they need help working out a problem. This data provides the perspective of individual detained youth, which research has linked to safety within facilities as well as longer-term outcomes and is a powerful tool for increasing authenticity, accountability and transparency.

In Greene County the annual report is posted on their website and copies are available to read in the Detention waiting room. This public display of information is intended to increase transparency, trust, and the documented benefits of openly sharing data and providing avenues for feedback to families and the community.

For more illustrations of how PbS data can be used, see pages 20-21 of the 2013 Greene County Family Court: Juvenile & Domestic Relations Division Annual Report.

This article was retrieved from the CJCA blog.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014 at 3:06 PM

Kiosks Help Facilities Hear from Youths, Staff and Families


Earlier this year, Performance-based Standards (PbS) announced the availability of touch-screen kiosks to survey youths, staff and families in a quick, easy and paper-less manner. The announcement quickly caught the attention of juvenile agencies looking to reduce the time and effort involved in administering paper surveys.

The kiosks were setup and installed in 20 facilities across 10 different states in time to be used during the April 2014 PbS data collection period. Throughout the course of April these kiosks collected 1,141 surveys of youths, staff and families. Nine tree-saving facilities completely eliminated their paper surveys in favor of the kiosk!

One clear benefit to surveying at a kiosk is the amount of staff time saved. PbS asked the facilities who used the kiosk how much time it took them to use the kiosk when compared to paper surveys and the savings averaged nearly 10 minutes per survey. The time difference is really gained through eliminating the need for any staff person to do any data entry—the surveys collected at the kiosk are automatically submitted to the PbS database where they are summarized through a series of reports. An average savings of 10 minutes per survey can really add up especially considering that 261 surveys were collected at a single facility this April which would total more than one work week of staff time saved.

There was an initial availability of 50 kiosk units, all of which are now spoken for with 14 early adopting juvenile agencies purchasing the devices for their correction and detention facilities. PbS has now made the same kiosk devices available to community-based residential centers and has begun shipping the next round of orders to be used between now and the next PbS data collection period in October of this year.

This article originally appeared on the CJCA blog.

Friday, June 20, 2014 at 10:50 AM

In Covington, Louisiana - a Juvenile Detention Center that preserves the dignity of the kids that they serve and helps us to recover a precious resource


When riding long distances you get into a rhythm, put your head down, pedal forward and focus on the road ahead, often missing the landscape that surrounds you. So I know that it was serendipity that made me look up and notice the juvenile detention center I was passing as I trekked along US highway 190 in Louisiana. Something in me made me stop, turn around, drive through the parking lot to the front of the building, park my bike and push the speaker button. A guard on the other side wanted to know how she could help to which I replied that I wished to speak to one of the supervisors. She told me to hold on. A few minutes later the metal doors clicked open and a young man came out. He introduced himself as Steven and asked me what he could do for me. I imparted some details concerning the reason for my journey and asked if he would be willing to speak with me about the facility and the work he was involved in. Steve said he could give me a couple of minutes and told me to come inside. I said I was going to lock up my bike and he said, “No need, we have cameras everywhere. No one will touch your bike.” We went through the metal detectors and sat down in what was like a visitor waiting room.

I took off my helmet and began to tell Steve about my ride's purpose, and in doing so I happened to mention Dr. Vincent Felitti and the ACE study, and that was that! Next thing I know I’m sitting in the conference room with Steve and the Executive Director of the Detention Center, Tom Jarlock, about to have a conversation that in itself has made this ride more than worth the effort.

After introducing myself and filling Tom in on why I had stopped and what I hoped to accomplish, our conversation began in earnest. Actually, it was not really a conversation but a lesson on leadership, courage, and vision that Tom imparted and I’m going to attempt to write down for you to read.

Tom and Steve have been to Chicago and have heard Dr. Felitti speak, actually getting the opportunity to spend time with him to ask questions and gather information. “The ACE study confirms a lot of what we experience and know already,” said Tom. He continued by informing me that at the center they see kids that have many risk factors and very few protective factors, and so for him it’s no surprise that they get caught up in criminal behavior. The center serves young boys and girls, and he said that the girls that they serve have almost all been sexually abused in some way. From his perspective -- a viewpoint supported by the ACE information -- it’s no surprise that the young girls have gotten caught up in criminal behavior as a result of their coping mechanisms.

What Dr. Felitti learned and what Tom paraphrased to me is that, “We see people's problems when what we are really seeing is their solutions.” Tom went on to say, “It hasn’t shaped or changed the way we do business, but it has given us additional understanding and insight.” He said, “We work with children, with adolescents. We’re a juvenile detention center, one of about 600 centers in the country. There are five centers in the country that use the cognitive behavioral process to work with kids and we are one of the five. Not the first, but probably the third or the fourth." He went on to tell me how they got to where they are. “When I came here this was a typical institution,” said Tom. It was your typical detention center where guards have ultimate authority and kids are moved from place to place, where forced is applied in overwhelming amounts to deal with most problems. This is a scenario that still holds true in most areas of the country.

Tom began to examine the detention center's operations. He began to ask questions: Why do we do this? Why do we do that? Can this be done differently? I have to stop and tell you that at some point I asked Tom what made him question the system, and I’m putting his answer much too simply, but it had something to do with his time as a Marine where he really took a concept taught by the Marine Corps -- “a belief in excellence” -- and made it a way of life for himself.

Tom found that the answer to his questions were not to be found in Louisiana at the time. “It wasn’t done differently anywhere in Louisiana so I started asking outside the state,” said Tom. "We found a place that was doing it differently when we went to Chicago to visit the DuPage Detention Center." This is a center that has been recognized by the National Juvenile Detention Association as a model program. They have all the residents in the detention center participate in an intense program geared to reduce their risk of re-offending. Principles of effective interventions with juveniles and concepts of Restorative Justice form the basis for their programming.

“We brought those principles home after spending a week up there learning their processes, came back and over a period of eighteen months we implemented the cognitive behavioral interventions model,” Tom recounted. In two years he said they lost 90% of the staff because many of them couldn’t make the transition from authoritarian to caregiver. They could not go from being guards to what he says they are now, “more like shepherds.” "We treat kids through the lens of, 'Are we removing dignity from them or are we caring for them?'" An example he gave was that in 2004 they didn’t have shower curtains because they had to watch the kids shower. Now they have shower curtains because, according to Tom, “Number one, we shouldn’t be looking at kids naked. Secondly, how do kids feel when they are viewed without their clothes? They feel awful about that. They’re unsure about their bodies, they’re experiencing a lot of change, they’re now thrust into an institution. Should they ever be seen naked? Our perspective is No! That is a huge dignity removal, so we don’t do that anymore. We don’t do strip searches for random events. We do them only if and when we have probable cause. We are very careful in how we train people on how to speak to kids as well. We don’t use derogatory terms. We don’t curse at kids. We don’t strike them. We don’t use chemical agents on kids. We are very cautious about every interaction and our main focus is not removing dignity. We do a lot of training on de-escalation of kids; therefore, we are very patient. Some people see that as coddling. We see that as giving kids ample opportunity to express themselves, which gives us the opportunity to resolve things without using force.” Tom told me that back in 2004, everyday they had a full hands-on violent restraint of a kid involving handcuffing or pepper spray. Now that happens maybe once a month.

Over the past ten years they have become focused on what they could do in becoming the very best in this industry, providing the very best services for kids even though nobody asked them to. It’s not been easy. For example, when Tom started making these changes, the judges where saying, “Well we don’t like that!”

Another example of dignity is that every kid would have their heads shaved when they came in. Judges really got a kick out of that! Tom came in and said, “I don’t feel good about that. Why do we do that? Why don’t we offer kids haircuts?” Tom had a judge call him and say, “Look, I want this kid's head shaved.” Tom said, “Your honor, put that in their order and I’ll go ahead and shave this kid's head.” He got a call saying, “The order's coming.” He said, “Great, waiting to see it.” The order came and it said, “Youth shall have hair cut.”

By 2005, they got a reputation for being too soft on kids, and in typical fashion, Tom responded by giving stuffed animal to kids upon intake. “You got a 14-year-old, 15-year-old kid, maybe a girl, first time away from home in jail, institutional environment, how does it feel? Feels awful! Feels awful. Did they do something bad? They did something that warranted them being detained. Does that mean we treat them like a criminal or thug? They’re a kid! They’re a recoverable resource that we want to help recover!”

He said that they have a laser-like focus on what they do and commented that it has spread somewhat. But he told me that I’d be surprised at how many people are not interested in the concept of specially practitioners in the field of juvenile detention. “You’ll hear, 'Oh yeah, we do some of that.' Sadly, it’s all talk and no action,” Tom said.

But here at this center, Tom has made sure that everyone works toward the importance of recovering this child resource, preserving the dignity of the kids that they serve, and training the people that come in as best they can. They start out by finding the right people to work in the juvenile detention industry. They want people who have an interest in doing things that don’t require chest-banging machismo, an “I’m going to go in there and kick some ass” kind of mentality. In this way, Tom thinks they’ve made a significant impact on the lives that they’ve touched--staff lives and the lives of the kids they interact with everyday.

“We want kids to leave here feeling better than when they came in," Tom said. "We want them to be reinforced as human beings, leaving here thinking, 'I got detained, but these people cared for me while I was here. They didn’t stomp on my chest. They didn’t feed me bad food. They didn’t taunt me for whatever reason--my sexuality, the crime I was alleged of having committed. They didn’t taunt me because I’m poor and came in only having one shoe. They didn’t taunt me because I live in a certain area. They respected me!'”

“You talk about adverse childhood events. Well detention is one of those and we focus on how to make that less of a risk factor,” said Tom. “If it can be done in Chicago, I knew it could be done here. In fact, it can be done anywhere you name a place: Los Angeles, any place in the country. All you need is the will and desire. It’s not done commonly because people don’t have to.”

Dr. David W. Roush, an expert in Juvenile Detention and Corrections, has told them that what they accomplished at this Florida Parishes Juvenile Detention Center in Covington, Louisiana, is the most dramatic change model that has been sustained over time of any detention center he’s experienced. Tom has been here for ten years and Steve is going on eight years. “Together with the staff we’ve carefully reinforced the purity of this model,” Tom said. “A pure soup that people can taste. It can be done in other places if the right team comes together. A doable thing that somebody can do if they have the will and desire to do it!”

This article originally appeared on the ACEs Connection blog.

Friday, June 13, 2014 at 3:19 PM

Remembering John Platt


Juvenile justice lost one of its champions for youths in confinement over Memorial Day weekend. John Roderick Platt passed in the early morning hours of May 24, surrounded by his family, after a long and courageous battle to recover from a stroke he suffered four years ago.

John and I last worked together as advisors to the California Division of Juvenile Justice when the state was developing a “Safety and Welfare Plan” in response to a lawsuit from the Prison Law Office (PLO). I experienced his deep concern for the rights of confined children, his professionalism and his friendship.

John spent his entire career in youth corrections, first becoming the superintendent of St. Charles Youth Center and then deputy director of the Juvenile Division of the Illinois Department of Corrections (IDOC). John was an active member of the Council of Juvenile Correctional Administrators (CJCA) when he led the juvenile division.

After a long and distinguished career in Illinois youth corrections, John served as a coach to the Midwestern states for the Performance-based Standards Learning Institute (PbS Li). He epitomized the commitment of PbS Li “To treat all youths in custody as one of our own.”

John spent the final years of his juvenile justice career as a consultant for the Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division as a monitor of youth detention and correctional facilities to improve the living conditions for youths in confinement.

John was known for his “Plattisms.” Janice Shallcross, PbS Coach, who worked for John at the IDOC recounted one on his Caring Bridge web page: “It’s a good day when all the children you put to bed get up in the morning. It gets even better, you send them home and they stay there. It doesn’t happen by chance. You have to have good people during the journey to make a difference.”

Two words most used to describe John in the many tributes to him on Caring Bridge were: courage and dignity.

This article originally appeared on the CJCA blog.

Thursday, June 12, 2014 at 3:54 PM

PbS Participants Connect Youths and their Families


Research has shown the importance of engaging families in youths’ rehabilitation and many facilities across the country hold events to help encourage family engagement. Performance-based Standards (PbS) is proud to share some of the great things happening in participating facilities.

Logansport Juvenile Correctional Facility (LJCF) in Indiana recently held a series of Family Days for each of its therapeutic and general population communities. During the Family Days, staff, parents and youths participated in treatment teams, family counseling sessions and family reunification events. LJCF received positive feedback from everyone who participated in the Family Days!

STAR Academy in South Dakota has several ways of connecting youths and families. For the female population, Family Focus is a group counseling session where the youths and their family work to build better communication by addressing past issues and developing new goals. The process includes hands-on activities and open floor discussions, covering topics like goal setting, transition planning and ways to improve family communication. For the male population, Family Connect Weekend provides programming that involves understanding how the adolescent male mind works, how to interact with the adolescent male and how to connect as a family unit prior to the youth returning home.

Teen mothers at the Youth Rehabilitation and Treatment Center (YRTC) in Geneva, NE are able to participate in the Mother and Babies Program, a program that facilitates an overnight stay, with their child. Once the youths demonstrate positive parenting skills, an overnight visit can be arranged where staff observe the interactions and provide tips for handling situations. The young mothers are excited and appreciative of the opportunity to care for their child and Danielle Larson, who helps facilitate the program, says “they desire reunification with their child, so they follow the program’s expectations and work hard to earn an overnight stay with their child.”

Thanks to the PbS participants who shared their great programs and events!

To learn more about family engagement, see our blog on family engagement resources.

This article originally appeared on the CJCA blog.

Friday, May 30, 2014 at 10:19 AM

Reflections of a BAH Winner: Pendleton JCF (IN)


Performance-based Standards (PbS) created the Barbara Allen-Hagen Award (BAH) to honor one correction, one detention/assessment and one community-based residential program who successfully use PbS’ national standards and self-improvement process to achieve positive outcomes for youths, staff and families.

Pendleton Juvenile Correctional Facility (PJCF), run by Indiana’s Division of Youth Services, won the 2013 BAH award for increasing family engagement through practices such as unlimited visitation, family councils and involving families in treatment planning. PJCF recently shared how the award has continued to impact the facility today and what other facilities can do to submit a successful application.

Receiving the news and the celebration
After receiving the call, PJCF shared the good news with staff, students and the community. As the maximum security juvenile facility in Indiana, the award gave PJCF an opportunity to share positive information about the programs and treatment offered at the facility. Celebrations were held for all staff and students following the news.

The significance of the award
The award was great proof that change is possible using PbS as the tool to help improve conditions of confinement as well as overall culture in the facility. PJCF considers winning the award as a “pat on the back” to all staff for their hard work and commitment to making all the improvements possible. PJCF proudly displays the award at the entrance of the facility for all staff and visitors to see.

The effect on staff and youths
Staff and youth morale increased even before winning the award as a result of the innovative changes that were made at the facility. The award helped to solidify and affirm that the facility was on the right course for improving outcomes for youths in their care.

Sustaining the changes
PJCF now has a line staff PbS committee who are much more involved in the PbS process. The facility does not look at PbS as an October and April event but rather, they have adopted PbS, a data-driven improvement model committed to treating all youths in custody as one of our own, into daily operations throughout the year. PJCF has embedded PbS into everything they do and it is a part of the culture at all levels. Thanks to the award, more and more staff are involved in the PbS process every day.

Tips for facilities and programs applying this year
PJCF emphasizes that facilities should get as many staff involved in PbS as you can because “the more information that staff and students have about PbS, the better.” Communication is also essential so that information can be shared and ideas heard. PJCF stresses that the Facility Improvement Plan (FIP) process is not just for management but line staff should be included in the development and implementation of all improvement plans.

Congratulations again to PJCF and a special thanks to Sacramento County Youth Detention Facility (SCYDF) for also sharing their success with the PbS community. The 2014 BAH application will be released to PbS participants on June 2, 2014. Please look for more news and announcements on the award!

The PbS Barbara Allen-Hagen Award was established in 2007 to honor Barbara-Allen Hagen in her retirement from the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP). Barbara’s dedication to improving the quality of life for young offenders has helped drive Performance-based Standards (PbS) to its current success.

This article originally appeared on the CJCA blog

Tuesday, May 27, 2014 at 9:52 AM

Reflections of a BAH Winner: Sacramento


Each year, Performance-based Standards (PbS) recognizes one correction, one detention/assessment and one community-based residential program that best exemplify the core principal of PbS: treat all youths in custody as one of our own. The Barbara Allen-Hagen (BAH) Award has helped honor facilities and programs who successfully use PbS’ national standards and self-improvement process to achieve positive outcomes for youths, staff and families.

The Sacramento County Youth Detention Facility (SCYDF) won the 2013 BAH Award for significantly reducing both the use and duration of isolation/room confinement. PbS recently caught up with the award winning facility, who described the excitement around winning the award, how they’ve sustained the positive changes and words of advice for facilities applying this year.

Receiving the news and the celebration
When SCYDF found out they won the award, management congratulated all the facility staff and spread the news to other divisions, county board members and community stakeholders. The facility gathered all staff and organized a barbeque lunch to celebrate their achievements. SCYDF currently displays the award in the reception area so that all facility staff and visitors can view it as they enter and exit the facility.

The significance of the award
SCYDF felt extremely honored to have made it as finalist for all their accomplishments and improvements but winning the award was a tremendous honor. Even more, SCYDF is the first detention facility to win the award in its category for a second time (the facility won in 2011), which SCYDF described as “an incredible feat that made Sacramento County Probation extremely proud.”

The effect on staff and youths
Winning the award has increased staff-buy in of the PbS program. Staff are now eager and to be involved in the facility’s continuous improvement efforts. This in turn has helped staff better engage with the youths that they impact at the facility.

Sustaining the changes
To help sustain the changes noted in their winning application, SCYDF has made the commitment to continually improve outcomes for youths, staff and families not just during data collections but all year long. SCYDF evaluates policies, procedures and practices regularly for any possible updates or enhancements.

Tips for facilities and programs applying this year
SCYDF encourages that all participants commit to on-going quality assurance. Paying particular attention to critical outcomes is crucial to success and sustainability. It is also important to educate and encourage staff on their impact to the program. SCDYF says that “staff interest and ownership of the positive changes will inspire and lead.” Finally, do not be discouraged! If the data does not reflect an improvement, acknowledge that progress has still been made and culture change takes time.

A special thanks to SCYDF for the words of encouragement and advice for our applicants. The 2014 BAH application will be released to PbS participants on June 2, 2014. Please look out for more news and announcements on the award!

The PbS Barbara Allen-Hagen Award was established in 2007 to honor Barbara-Allen Hagen in her retirement from the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP). Barbara was dedicated to improving the quality of life for young offenders and has helped drive Performance-based Standards (PbS) to its current success today.

This article originally appeared on the CJCA blog.

Monday, May 12, 2014 at 10:14 AM

Webinar on Reducing Isolation Delivers the Gold


What do you do when a kid acts out? Is disrespectful or rude? Is visibly angry, out-of-control and maybe throws a punch?

This is an everyday challenge for all adults but especially those who work in facilities for young offenders. Their job is to control youths’ behavior, keep them safe from themselves and each other and create a positive environment for all youths and staff so rehabilitation can occur. Working in, managing or being responsible for facilities for at-risk and delinquent youths is one of the most challenging jobs there is and one with an opportunity to have an incredible impact on young lives; perhaps a life-changing impact.

Performance-based Standards (PbS) thanks Peter Forbes, Commissioner of the Massachusetts Department of Youth Services, and Judy Davis, Superintendent of the Illinois Youth Center-Warrenville and PbS state coordinator, for sharing realistic and feasible practices on Friday’s webinar “Policies, Practices and PbS Outcomes to Reduce Isolation and Room Confinement,” presented by PbS for the Council of Juvenile Correctional Administrators’ (CJCA) Resource Network for Youth Correction Leadership and Professionals

The intention of the webinar was to provide some tools to change facility culture and practice from reliance on isolation and room confinement to more effective, safer ways to respond to youths’ misbehavior and Peter and Judy delivered the gold. Over 200 attendees from 41 states and the District of Columbia received detailed descriptions of how Massachusetts and Illinois recognize the negative impact of isolation and room confinement on youths and established alternative and creative responses for both youths and staff.

Peter highlighted various strategies Massachusetts used, starting with a policy directing all staff on when and where room confinement can be used, an extensive authorization process, behavior-based release plan and both local and national PbS data that measures and monitors the use of isolation and room confinement.

Judy described the five-year-old Illinois agency’s need to change from an adult-oriented culture in the facilities to using youth-focused, research-based practices as alternatives, such as time-outs, mediation and to better keep youths in school, the Ready to Learn program.

PbS has worked with both agencies for many years and we’ve seen clear evidence – the data- documenting tremendous changes in practices and better outcomes for youths and staff. One might think that less room confinement use would lead to more injuries and incidents but that is not the case; PbS data has shown that youths with a history of being locked up have increased odds of victimization including fear for safety, theft of one’s property, being the victim of physical abuse and being in a fight. Isolation is not the answer and we applaud these states for finding alternatives to manage behavioral issues.

Join CJCA for their next webinar "Dual Status Youth and their Families: Altering the Human and Fiscal Toll through Improved Youth & System Outcomes" on Friday, May 16.

This article originally appeared on the CJCA blog.

Thursday, May 8, 2014 at 4:39 PM

Upcoming Webinar on Dual Status Youths and their Families


The Robert F. Kennedy National Resource Center for Juvenile Justice, led by the Robert F. Kennedy Children’s Action Corps, provides new tools, established resources and technical guidance to support site-based initiatives focused on better serving dual status youths, those who come into contact with both the child welfare and juvenile justice systems.

On Friday, May 16 from 2-3pm EDT, John Tuell and Jessica Heldman from the Robert. F. Kennedy Children’s Action Corps will present “Dual Status Youth and their Families: Altering the Human and Fiscal Toll through Improved Youth & System Outcomes,” a webinar hosted by the Council of Juvenile Correctional Administrators (CJCA).

This webinar will share the most up to date research and publications available on dual status youths, highlighting an established framework for system collaboration and coordination applied in jurisdictions around the nation. Common challenges and successes in undertaking dual status youth initiatives will be discussed. Presenters will focus on start-up and sustainable methods by which leaders in state and local jurisdictions may improve outcomes for this challenging and disadvantaged population of youths.

Reserve you webinar seat now at: https://www3.gotomeeting.com/register/500565846

This article originally appeared on the CJCA blog.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014 at 2:18 PM

Youths in the Juvenile Justice System Show Their Creativity


Youths can create amazing works of art, which leave you in awe (and a little jealous). Performance-based Standards (PbS) is proud to share some of this artwork and the great art programs that allow youths to create them.

Youths at Logansport Juvenile Correctional Facility recently participated in the “Recycled Inspiration” competition. For this competition, youths created an art piece out of recycled materials such as plastic bottles, cardboard boxes and take-out containers. The youths made great pieces that ranged from Mario jumping for a coin to a teepee. They learned that they could use almost anything to make art! Judy Thomas, PbS Site Coordinator, said “it was truly great to see our students using their imagination and listen to their ideas for future projects.”

The Ohio Department of Youth Services (DYS) partnered with Franklin University to provide a unique exhibition and silent auction of artwork from youths in juvenile correctional facilities. The exhibition featured 34 works of art in a variety of mediums including acrylics, pencils, watercolors and mixed media. Twenty-five pieces were put up for sale in the silent auction and all proceeds benefitted the Brian Muha Foundation. Harvey Reed, Director of DYS, said “we were pleased to highlight our youth’s artistic abilities while benefitting the Brian Muha Foundation. Dr. Karen Miner-Romanoff, Program Chair of the Criminal Justice Administration Program at Franklin University, explained “the opportunity for youth to express themselves through art and for the community to experience that art is immeasurable. Franklin University is proud to support this type of innovative educational outreach and partnership with the Ohio Department of Youth Services.”

Youths at STAR Academy in South Dakota participate in the ARTSCORR program, where professional artists and art educators serve residencies at the facility to provide hands-on experience and serve as a positive role model for the youths. The artists work with youths in a variety of mediums including painting, sculpting, beading and needlework. The program helps to provide opportunities for self-expression, build respect for self and others and promote a positive sense of community.

Thanks to the PbS participants who shared their great art programs and events!

The Council of Juvenile Correctional Administrators (CJCA) is also conducting a national art contest for youths in the juvenile justice system in celebration of their 20th anniversary.

This article originally appeared on the CJCA blog.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014 at 1:36 PM

PbS Expands the Family Youth Initiative


It has been an exciting time for Performance-based Standards (PbS). We released kiosks which allow youths, staff and families to complete surveys on touch screens. We partnered with THRIVE and the Maine Department of Corrections to integrate trauma-informed care with PbS and have added new trauma-related questions to the youth climate survey. We are also expanding the Family-Youth Initiative (FYI) to help facilities further improve family engagement.

The Family-Youth Initiative was first developed in 2011 when PbS partnered with the Vera Institute of Justice, Family Justice Program to help facilities engage and collaborate with families while youths are in custody. FYI helped PbS create the Family Survey which measures family perceptions of juvenile facilities at the time of a youth’s release. The survey has been in pilot for the past several data collections but beginning on May 1, the survey will be available to all correctional facilities. In addition to the survey expansion, new family-related outcome measures and standards will be available to help facilities further measure and improve family engagement.

Correction facilities are not the only ones who will see changes—Community-based programs participating in PbS will use an improved survey based on the work with Vera and a group of detention facilities will pilot an adjusted family survey.

PbS is excited for all the FYI enhancements, which will help facilities treat each child as one of their own.

This article originally appeared on the CJCA blog.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014 at 1:04 PM

PbS Works to Bring Family Surveys to Detention Facilities


The Family-Youth Initiative (FYI), a collaboration between Performance-based Standards (PbS) and the Vera Institute of Justice, Family Justice Program was created to help facilities better engage and work with families. FYI created a perception survey for family members of detained youths in corrections facilities and PbS is now happy to announce that a group of detention facilities will pilot a family survey tailored for their short term population.

The PbS Family Survey for correction sites helps gain insight into the family’s orientation to the facility, visiting and contact with their child, and involvement in treatment and discharge planning. At the 2014 State Coordinators Training, state coordinators involved with detention sites reviewed the PbS Family Survey and discussed how to enhance and tailor the survey for detention sites. Thanks to all the feedback from our state coordinators, a family survey for detention sites was developed and a group of detention sites across the country have agreed to pilot the family survey starting in May. The survey will bring new reports and outcome measures but most importantly, detention facilities will be able to recognize how well they’re engaging families and make improvements based on the data.

We’re very excited for this important development in the Family-Youth Initiative and a big thanks to all of our state coordinators! A special thanks to those involved in the PbS detention family survey work group including Karl Alston (Court Support Services Division, CT), Vicki Brown-Smith (Hamilton County, OH), Michael Shores (Sacramento, CA), Emil Fischer (Riverside, CA), Salvador Mendez (UT), Ray Michaelson (AK), Jim Sanders (Sacramento, CA), Patrick Schreiber (Clark County, NV) and Marie Swope (Greene County, MO).

This article originally appeared on the CJCA blog.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014 at 1:54 PM

Community-based Programs Get Fuller Picture of Family Involvement


Community-based programs vary in their rehabilitative missions, often with a focus on mental health or substance abuse, but the importance of family involvement in the youth’s treatment planning and discharge is a consistent thread throughout all community-based programs.

Since 2008, Performance-based Standards (PbS) has worked with community-based programs in order to provide safe and healthy cultures and effective services that help young offenders return to the community and lead successful law-abiding lives. To understand the role of family in this process, PbS provides and collects family surveys from community-based programs as well as questions about family and social supports through other surveys.

Recently, a partnership was formed with the Vera Institute of Justice to work on the Family-Youth Initiative (FYI) to better engage and work with families. As a result of FYI, PbS has pilot-tested family surveys in secure facilities and is now proud to announce that community-based program participants will be using an improved family survey based on the work with Vera. Updated family surveys and other data collected about families will provide a fuller picture of family involvement and important feedback for programs to meaningfully and effectively include families and social supports in youths’ rehabilitation and reentry into the community.

This article originally appeared on the CJCA blog.

Monday, April 21, 2014 at 11:06 AM

New Report on Sex Trafficking from Center on Poverty and Inequality


The Center on Poverty and Inequality at Georgetown University Law Center recently released Blueprint: A Multidisciplinary Approach to the Domestic Sex Trafficking of Girls, a report on the sex trafficking of girls in the United States. The report describes core components of a comprehensive and collaborative approach to the domestic sex trafficking of girls and details how several jurisdictions have created multidisciplinary responses to sex trafficking.

The report identifies a shift in perspective as a core component of addressing sex trafficking, specifically that trafficked girls should be seen as victims, not offenders. The report also recognizes that these girls often see themselves as survivors, not victims, who have overcome abuse, hunger, homelessness, poverty and/or violence. Instead of being sent to the juvenile justice system on prostitution or related charges, girls should receive appropriate treatment. Lisa Goldblatt Grace, Director of My Life, My Choice, says that we need to “Surround the girls by offering love, belonging, community, and a place to make money — all the things the pimps gave them.” Another key component includes improving public systems’ identification of victims, so they don’t fall through the cracks. Because victims are often involved in multiple public systems including law enforcement, probation, education, mental health, medical care and public health systems as well as non-profit organizations, multidisciplinary task forces can help develop the most effective treatment plan for the girls.

The report provides case studies on three jurisdictions that have created effective multidisciplinary approaches to domestic sex trafficking of children—Suffolk County, Massachusetts; Los Angeles County, California; and the state of Connecticut. The jurisdictions’ models are offered as examples for other communities to improve their own recognition and response to sex trafficking.

This article was retrieved from the CJCA blog.

Monday, April 14, 2014 at 10:39 AM

Conference Attendees Impressed by PbS and PbS’ Unique Collaboration


In March, Performance-based Standards’ (PbS) unique collaboration with three partners in Maine to bring trauma-informed care to youth corrections presented before a standing-room-only audience at the Children’s Mental Health Research and Policy Conference.

The annual conference focuses on mental health research and treatment and intervention programs for mental health providers. About 600 participants attended. Many participants were federal system of care grantees who are looking for opportunities to partner with juvenile justice, said Brie Masselli, director of Training and Continuous Quality Improvement for THRIVE, and one of the presenters. THRIVE, the system of care provider in Maine, is one of PbS’ partners along with the Maine Department of Correction (DOC) Juvenile Services Division and the research firm of Hornby Zeller Associates. The unique collaboration integrating trauma-informed care into juvenile correctional practices was developed as part of a Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) grant to the Maine DOC and THRIVE.

The presentation by Brie Masselli, Troy Varney, Chris Concannon, Sarah Goan and Boyd Kronholm explained the history of bringing trauma-informed care to juvenile facilities, how it’s being incorporated by PbS, the results of Maine’s pilot of trauma-informed assessments and local and national implications. “They were intrigued by PbS,” Masselli said, adding that a few attendees confused PbS with PBIS, the behavior management program. (Interestingly, PbS and PBIS work together in facilities as PbS participants use PbS outcome measures to assess and monitor the effectiveness of PBIS.) “They were impressed. It was something incredibly new and exciting for them,” she continued, as many grantees have identified juvenile justice as a population to focus on but are not sure how to do so.

PbS, DOC, THRIVE and Hornby Zeller have worked together for the past year and are taking the first step this April with the addition of trauma-informed care questions included in the PbS Youth Climate Survey. THRIVE, DOC and Hornby Zeller developed, pilot tested and researched the questions with the youths in the two Maine facilities. The result will be the first nationwide baseline of information from youths about trauma-informed care practices in juvenile facilities.

Next, the collaboration is working to integrate DOC/THRIVE/Hornby Zeller’s surveys of staff and families with the PbS surveys, which are conducted twice a year in more than 200 residential facilities in 36 states. PbS was invited into the project as the vehicle to provide continuous quality assurance that the trauma-informed philosophy and practices DOC desired were being realized by the youths, staff and families.

This is another awesome example of how PbS can help juvenile justice agencies integrate current, research-based practices into daily operations and youths, staff and families can receive effective, quality services.

This article originally appeared on the CJCA blog.

Monday, April 7, 2014 at 11:24 AM

PbS Participants Offer Great Programs and Events for Youths


Performance-based Standards (PbS) is proud to share great programming and events from our participants, which range from knitting to an American Idol visit!

Youths at Logansport Juvenile Correctional Facility in Indiana have the opportunity to participate in the Purposeful Living Units Serve (PLUS) program, where the youths spend part of their required community service knitting. In the program, youths create hats, scarves and baby blankets, which are then donated to Emmaus Mission Center. Staff predict that over 100 items will be donated by the end of this year, double the number of items that were donated last year. Not only do the youths help the community through donations, knitting also helps them reduce stress and keep calm. Additionally, the youths can use their knitting skills when they are released—one youth is looking forward to making hats and scarves for his niece and nephews!

Youths from STAR Academy in South Dakota experienced both giving and receiving this past winter. In December, youths attended a Toys for Tots fundraiser at a hockey game, donating stuffed animals by tossing them on the ice after the first goal was scored. Youths also work with the Custer VFW Post #3442 and in January, youths were provided with a home cooked meal, an appreciation presentation and time out in the community as a thanks for their contributions.

Candice Glover, season 12 winner of American Idol, visited youths at the South Carolina Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ). Glover talked about how she overcame rejection and built her confidence, culminating in her American Idol win. Virginia Camp, who works for DJJ and is a cousin of Glover, wanted the youths to hear the inspiring story of perseverance and the youths were glad they were able to meet Glover.

Thanks to the PbS participants who shared their great programs and stories!

This article originally appeared on the CJCA blog.

Thursday, April 3, 2014 at 10:34 AM

States Moving Away from Solitary Confinement—PbS Offers Tools to Help


The Juvenile Justice Information Exchange (JJIE) recently released an article on the growing trend of state juvenile correction agencies moving away from the use of solitary confinement. The article conducts interviews with agency leaders from states including Massachusetts, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Alaska and Connecticut who explain how and why they are changing the practice of isolating a youth as a form of punishment.

Stephanie Bond, acting director of the West Virginia Department of Juvenile Services, explains that her department has worked with the Council of Juvenile Correctional Administrators (CJCA) and Performance-based Standards (PbS) to address the issue of solitary confinement in the state. Peter Forbes, commissioner of the Massachusetts Department of Youth Services, CJCA member and PbS participant, agrees with experts who say programming that engages youths can help avoid overuse of room confinement and help with rehabilitation.

Ned Loughran, executive director of CJCA, points out how changes in practice are created using PbS – a data-driven improvement model grounded in research that holds juvenile systems to the highest standards of operations, programs and services: “You can’t change what you don’t measure. So states that are being successful [in moving away from solitary] are the states that are measuring the use of isolation, then analyzing its use, developing facility-improvement plans to develop steps to reduce the use of isolation.”

“The state agencies that have successfully eliminated and reduced the use of isolation and room confinement have three things in common: strong leadership, effective training resources and a commitment to hold staff accountable with data,” said Kim Godfrey, executive director of PbS, which works with the state agencies in West Virginia, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Alaska and Connecticut. “It is not easy to change culture, which is what these leaders are doing. PbS is very proud to help support the work.”

PbS offers a way for jurisdictions to measure the use of isolation and confinement and provides reports for analysis as well as improvement planning technology. PbS’ national standards establish the highest expectations for facility conditions and quality of life and PbS facilities measure operations, programs and services twice a year to continually monitor safety, security, behavior management, family connection, treatment, education and reentry programming and youths’, staff and families’ experiences. PbS standards are clear: isolating or confining a youth to his/her room should be used only to protect the youth from harming himself or others and if used, should be brief and supervised. PbS’ issue brief, Reducing Isolation and Confinement, showed that corrections facilities involved with PbS more than cut in half the average time a youth spent in isolation and room confinement over the course of a few years.

This article originally appeared on the CJCA blog.

Monday, March 24, 2014 at 1:46 PM

South Carolina DJJ Helps Youths and Community


The South Carolina Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) practices a restorative justice model, which benefits both youth and the community. One of the DJJ’s largest restorative projects is the partnership with Central South Carolina Habitat for Humanity where youth under the supervision of the DJJ help construct homes for those in need alongside volunteers in the community.

The Department’s mission is to protect the public and reclaim juveniles through prevention, community services, education, and rehabilitative services in the least restrictive environment. This partnership with Habitat for Humanity does just that. Youth receive hands-on experience in the construction trade while helping to rebuild the communities they will be returning to.

February 21 marked a dedication ceremony for the second house that DJJ helped to build. DJJ is proud of what the youth have accomplished and view its partnership with Habitat for Humanity as building houses, rebuilding communities, and reclaiming youth who are on the brink of re-entering society.

This is only one of the ways that DJJ practices the restorative justice model. DJJ also helps youth acquire important job skills through the Store of Hope, where youth create and sell a variety of custom-crafted items, and through the Job Readiness Training Center, which the Department opened recently.

This article originally appeared on the CJCA blog.

Monday, March 17, 2014 at 11:47 AM

PbS Now Surveying Youths, Staff and Families Using Touch-Screen Kiosks


Juvenile facilities participating in Performance-based Standards (PbS) are now able to survey youths, staff and families using touch-screen kiosk stations. Aimed at replacing paper-based surveys, these kiosks provide a private station for collecting anonymous feedback which facilities use to guide positive change.

I had the opportunity to unveil the new kiosks for the first time at the 2014 PbS State Coordinators Training in Tampa, FL. The demonstration sparked a lot of buzz amongst state agency leaders who were impressed by the real-time feedback that the technology provides. Many of those I talked to agreed that administering surveys at a kiosk would help foster anonymity and increase overall participation and response rates.

PbS partnered with AndPlus, LLC of Framingham, MA to develop the kiosk software. Leveraging modern web and mobile technologies, PbS and AndPlus created a system centered around an Android™ powered tablet computer which is contained in a key-lock secure enclosure. A survey facilitator from the facility uses a PIN number to begin a new survey for each survey participant. The person taking the survey can agree or disagree to participate directly at the kiosk. The intuitive user interface is clear and concise allowing survey participants to read each question, review any additional instructions and select their responses to each question sequentially with the option to end the survey at any time.

Providing surveys at a kiosk station has been a long-time goal of PbS and we couldn’t be more excited to see it come to fruition. Nearly 40 juvenile facilities will be using the kiosks by April 2014 and as many as 100 facilities could implement them by the end of the year. PbS will also be launching the same kiosk systems to community-based residential centers later this year.

This article is retrieved from the CJCA blog.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014 at 11:29 AM

WritersCorps Offers New Resource for Youths in the Juvenile Justice System


WritersCorps is a national organization that has been placing professional writers in schools, afterschool programs, and community centers to teach creative writing to young people, for 19 years. San Francisco's WritersCorps has created an exciting free resource for youths in the juvenile justice system.

The teaching artist at the Juvenile Justice Center (JJC) in San Francisco, Anhvu Buchanan, created a journal with his students called Words Within the Walls. The journal contains sample poems by youths at JJC, writing prompts and pages for writing. Buchanan developed the book to encourage his students to write outside of class and has found it to be a successful tool. This journal can be used by educators as a teaching tool, offered as a gift to students upon release or it can be a motivational tool in the facility.

The cost of printing and shipping the journal will be covered by a Kickstarter campaign launched by WritersCorps this month. If you’re interested in receiving free copies of Words Within the Walls for the youths at your facilities, send an email to hello@writerscorps.org. Please include your contact information, facility or program name, address and how many copies you need.

Please take an inside look at the journal.

This article was retrieved from the CJCA blog.

Friday, March 7, 2014 at 10:43 AM

Indiana and Ohio Offer Training Programs to Youths


Performance-based Standards (PbS) is excited to share some great programs offered to help youths gain essential skills.

Students from the Madison Juvenile Correctional Facility (MJCF) in Indiana participated in a one week training to receive CPR/AED certification. The program, in cooperation with Madison's Kings Daughter Hospital, is aimed at providing students with tangible skills they can use when they return home. Many students shared that the program provided them with valuable knowledge that could assist them in finding employment. MJCF has scheduled another CPR/AED training for May 2014.

The Ohio Department of Youth Services, Buckeye United School District, offers Career-Technical programs to enrolled high school students. The numerous programs offered such as Carpentry and Visual Design & Imaging contain four to five modules and run approximately 10 weeks. Upon completion of one program, students receive a “Certificate of Completion” and are able to enter into another program. During the 2012-2013 school year, 595 students participated in Career-Technical programs and earned 358 “Certificates of Completion.”

Students in the Ohio Department of Youth Services that already have a high school diploma or GED have the opportunity to enroll in the Ashland University College program. The courses are offered during the regular school day and facilitated by ODYS teachers. The courses are also transferable to Ohio’s Community Colleges. Since the fall of 2011, 157 youths have participated and earned 878 credit hours.

Thanks to Indiana and Ohio for sharing some of their programs for youths!

This article was retrieved from the CJCA blog.

Friday, February 28, 2014 at 11:23 AM

PBS Newshour Questions Confinement for Adolescents at Rikers Island


The momentum continues around the need for data to shed light on the practice of isolating juvenile offenders.

Questioning Confinement of Adolescents at Rikers Island,” a PBS Newshour that aired Feb. 21, leaves no room to debate the dangers of placing young offenders in isolation – it cites studies linking isolation to high rates of suicide and deterioration of youths’ medical and psychiatric health. However, as expressed by the New York City Correction Officers’ Benevolent Association president, many believe it is a necessary behavior management practice. At Rikers Island, fighting is punished by up to 90 days in isolation and horseplay by as many as 10 days.

The powerful and thorough report by Daffodil Altan of the Center for Investigative Reporting, includes information about isolation ranging from the international ban on its use for young offenders by the United Nations to a description by a 25-year-old youth counselor of his experience in isolation – including one four-month stretch - while held at Rikers Island on assault and robbery charges. But there is very little data because the Department of Corrections is not required to publicly report much more than how many teens are isolated.

As we’ve learned from Performance-based Standards (PbS), data and information about the use of isolation is necessary to change practices and create an effective way to reform cultures and individuals who believe it is a tool needed to manage young offenders. Isolation policies and practices became part of juvenile justice agencies largely by adopting without question the adult prison system’s reliance on solitary confinement. Now the use with adolescents is being questioned nationally and in PbS facilities, we’re seeing it addressed. In some facilities, simply seeing data describing how often and for how long youths are placed in isolation was an awakening and led to interacting with youths to address misbehavior rather than confining them to their rooms. For those who believe isolation is a necessary tool to control behavior, the data has shown that as the use of isolation decreases, there are not more but usually fewer incidents of fights, assaults and staff injuries.

To address the issue of isolation, New York City Council Member Daniel Dromm says he’ll file legislation next month that calls for data to understand what is happening to youths on Rikers and work toward a ban on the use of isolation, which the state of New York recently adopted along with other places all around the country. PbS stands ready to help.

This article originally appeared on the CJCA blog.

Thursday, February 27, 2014 at 12:00 PM

2014 PbS State Coordinators Training: Helping Kids Succeed


The 2014 State Coordinators Training gathered nearly 30 state coordinators in Tampa, FL Jan. 29 - Feb. 1 at the Marriott Westshore Hotel. This year’s theme, “Helping Kids Succeed” included topics of family engagement, the PbS holistic approach to zero tolerance and trauma and gender responsive programming. The training goal was to help state coordinators rise up to today’s challenges and build resource networks within the PbS community. Throughout the training, state coordinators networked with one another, shared information and resources with other states and came together as a community to ultimately improve the lives of the youths in their care.

The training featured two speakers Ryan Shanahan, Senior Program Associate of the Vera Institute of Justice’s Family Justice Program and Lawanda Ravoira, CEO and founder of the Delores Barr Weaver Policy Center. Shanahan’s presentation “Why Family Engagement is Key” shared how family members and social supports improve outcomes for kids and are valuable resources for youths’ rehabilitation. Ravoira presented “Family Centered Services through a Trauma and Gender Lens” which showed how traumatic experiences affect development and methods of treatment for both girls and boys. Training participants also learned about PbS’ holistic approach to the Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA), the work that has been done to help states align with PREA and PbS resources that will be available to create facility environments free of sexual abuse. Marie Swope, Superintendent of Greene County Juvenile Detention, told participants about Greene County that is identifying similarities and the gaps between PbS and PREA and the pilot work underway to develop tools and possible new PbS reports.

Participants also played lead roles over the three days. Shari Wolf from the Ohio Department of Youth Services and Chris Blessinger from the Indiana Division of Youth Services participated in the first PbS Fireside Chat where they reenacted a phone conversation that was initiated after the release of the Department of Justice Report. After Ohio was ranked as one of the facilities with the highest numbers for sexual abuse, Shari was able to use Chris as a resource to help address the report and determine some solutions. The Fireside Chat was a huge success and showed how PbS participants can rely on one another for support to help face some of the challenges in their jurisdictions. Troy Varney from Maine Department of Corrections shared how PbS teams were created in Maine and many other state coordinators shared innovative efforts going on in their own states during the PbS Spotlight: Penny Sampson (NH), Jessica Moncada (ID), Judy Davis (IL), Mike Both (PA), Marq Temple (PA) and Gary Westoby (OR).

Participants also divided into work groups to further the PbS Family-Youth Initiative (FYI). The four work groups were formed as follows: Mike Shores from the Sacramento County Probation Department led a group drafting a family survey for detention centers; Tonya Wright-Cook from the South Dakota Department of Corrections led a group developing recommendations to increase family participation in treatment planning; Dorie Farah from the Utah Division of Juvenile Justice Services led a group that identified recommendations for a model Family Council and Ray Michaelson from the Alaska Division of Juvenile Justice, led a group developing effective approaches to distribute and collect the PbS Family Survey. Thank you to all participants!

In the training evaluations, all participants agreed that the training met their expectations and kept them engaged. One state coordinator said “I enjoyed every aspect of the training and I especially enjoyed gaining more knowledge on all the subjects. I loved the networking and finding new resources.” Participants gave high marks to the Spotlight session and asked for more time at future trainings to hear about initiatives in other states. Many enjoyed the inspirational TED Talks that were integrated throughout the training and said they would begin to share TED Talks to their own staff and leadership teams. Overall, the training was a huge success and well-received by all attendees. A special congratulations to Dorie Farah and Marq Temple who each won a free tablet in the PbS Kiosk raffle. We enjoyed our time in Tampa this year and look forward to next year’s training!


View our online slideshow of the 2014 PbS State Coordinators Training

Friday, February 14, 2014 at 9:41 AM

The 2014 PbS State Coordinators Training a Huge Hit Among Participants


The 2014 PbS State Coordinators Training was awesome!

We gathered nearly 60 members of the Performance-based Standards (PbS) community in Tampa last week for almost three days of listening, learning, sharing and networking. The training focused on three main issues:

  • Engaging families, how the PbS Family-Youth Initiative (FYI) guides and measures effective connections with families and recent research by PbS’ partner, the Vera Institute of Justice, Family Justice Programs, which shows the many positive outcomes that result when families are part of treatment and youths’ lives while incarcerated;
  • Addressing trauma within juvenile justice facilities and agencies, including an introduction to PbS’ work in Maine that is part of a federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) grant integrating trauma approached care and philosophy in facilities and supplementing the PbS surveys to measure the impact; and
  • Creating and sustaining zero tolerance cultures, strategies for complying the Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA) standards and overview of the PbS pilot project in Greene County, MO, that is developing tools using PbS data to ensure best practices that prevent sexual victimization and adhere to PREA.

Listening to participants from past trainings, this year PbS built in several opportunities for networking among participants, who traveled from 24 states. One session paired state coordinators and let them simply ask questions for 10 minutes each- the room was buzzing! Another session highlighted individual state coordinators’ innovative and successful efforts in changing culture, simplifying data collection and generally improving facility outcomes. The evaluations showed the increased time to hear from their peers about specific strategies and struggles was appreciated and key to participants’ leaving with practical ideas and tools to use at their home agencies.

The presentations by Ryan Shanahan, Senior Program Associate of the Vera Institute of Justice, Family Justice Programs and Lawanda Ravoira, CEO of the Delores Barr Weaver Policy Center were a hit among the participants with several commenting that the presentations were excellent and informative. The state coordinators also flocked around Brendan Donahue as he showed off new kiosks where youths, staff and families can take surveys which are then directly sent to the PbS website.

Thanks to the training planning team: Coach Janice Shallcross, chair; coaches Barbara Chayt, Dave Crowley and Al Lick; PbS state coordinators Chris Blessinger and Emil Fischer and PbS team Karyn Rautenberg, Kyrei Miller and Lisa Martinek. It was a great event and certainly met the goal of helping state coordinators to rise to the challenges that they face.

I’m looking forward to the next training already – but spending time now letting all the information and energy of the 2014 training soak in.

This article was retrieved from the CJCA blog.

Friday, February 7, 2014 at 3:26 PM

State Coordinators Engage Their Peers in the First PbS Fireside Chat


The best illustration I’ve ever seen of the powerful networking and support amongst the Performance-based Standards (PbS) community was the “Fireside Chat” session at the 2014 PbS State Coordinators Training in Tampa last week. PbS State Coordinators showed what they can achieve when they work together.

The scene: PbS State Coordinator Chris Blessinger sits facing her open laptop, papers laid on the tables all around her, cell phone at her fingertips as if at her desk in Indiana. Sitting opposite of Chris is PbS State Coordinator Shari Wolf, also working with her laptop and phone, papers and folders in piles as if at her desk in Ohio. Shari starts to read aloud an email letting her know one of the Ohio facilities was included on the list of facilities with the highest rates of sexual victimization in the Bureau of Justice Statistics (2013) Report.

“Oh no, this is not good,” Shari says. “Not good at all.”

She starts typing an email, reaching out to her fellow PbS state coordinators for help. She gets a quick reply and learns Indiana was in the same position the previous year and Chris is willing to help. Shari dials Chris’ number and the whole room waits for Chris to answer.

And answer Chris did. Every question, every concern; sending documents and sharing experiences. The two talked candidly and openly about the issues they faced and strategized ways to ensure their facilities made changes necessary to eliminate sexual victimization. They traded information about hiring and training, policies and practices and responding to elected officials and the media.

You could have heard a pin drop in the room as the nearly 60 training participants listened. I could almost hear the crackle of the fire projected on the screen behind Shari and Chris.

PbS is a unique community of professionals across the country who believe we can help young offenders mature to be successful adults, we can provide safe and nurturing residential programs with effective rehabilitation services and the best way to operate a juvenile facility is to treat all youths as one of our own. It’s hard work shared by all PbS state coordinators and team members that is made easier with the support and connections to each other and the PbS staff and coaches. The 2014 PbS State Coordinators Training brought the PbS community closer together and I believe will help us all grow individually and expand our impact as a group.

This article was retrieved from the CJCA blog.

Friday, February 7, 2014 at 2:27 PM

PbS Celebrates 10th Anniversary of Winning Innovations in American Government Award


Performance-based Standards (PbS) is celebrating its 10th anniversary as a winner of the Innovations in American Government Award, the "Oscar" for government agencies and programs and the only such award hanging on the walls at the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP), PbS' funders from 1995-2007.

"It was a 12-month process of writing about PbS, organizing interviews with participants and the national reviewer when we were named as a top 25 semi-finalist and then a five-minute presentation before the Selection Committee with the 11 other finalists that I'll never, ever forget," said PbS Executive Director Kim Godfrey. "And I don't remember what we said as much as the almost paralyzing thrill that PbS was receiving such recognition."

One of the first things that happened as winners in 2004 was the production of a video that was and still is available on the "other" PBS - the Public Broadcasting Station. "A couple of years before the Innovations competition, working with a strategic planning consultant we set a goal to get PbS on PBS," Godfrey said. "It still is amazing to me we did it."

Since the award, PbS has grown in tremendous ways:

  • Worked with OJJDP to transition the program over three years to a self-sustaining fee-based service when federal funding ended;
  • Expanded the content of PbS' standards and outcome measures to working with youths' families and social supports;
  • Adapted the continuous improvement model for community residential programs and adult facilities;
  • Created technology allowing local management information systems to automatically transfer data into the PbS website;
  • Built kiosks to eliminate paper surveys of youths, staff and families.

PbS’ continued growth has truly helped juvenile facilities improve the conditions for youths and staff. Mike Dempsey, Executive Director of the Indiana Division of Youth Services, explains that “PbS has undoubtedly increased the safety of our facilities for staff and for kids.” Explaining the importance of PbS, Timene Farlow, Deputy Commissioner of the Philadelphia Division of Juvenile Justice services, states “PbS is incredibly effective. I don’t know what we would do without it.”

What's next for PbS?

"We have two expansion goals for 2014: broaden use of the survey kiosks to all participating facilities and add new content modules measuring trauma-informed philosophy and care, positive youth outcomes and preventing and monitoring sexual victimization," said Godfrey. "Until we stop locking up young offenders, PbS has work to do and we are ready."

Friday, January 31, 2014 at 3:53 PM

Automating Performance-based Standards


Performance-based Standards (PbS) participants are leading reforms across the country through their dedication to measuring and using data to make sure they provide the highest-quality services and programs. They also commit to collecting a tremendous amount of information to build a comprehensive picture of their programs. Last October alone participants collected data from more than 10,000 incident reports and over 4,000 youth records and entered that information into the PbS website. PbS has been working to make that process easier and have recently made available an Application Programming Interface (API) aimed at doing so.

Quite often staff will enter the same information into multiple information systems. For example, if an incident occurs at a facility, that incident may be reportable to a state agency reporting system and also reportable to the PbS system.

Read the full article on the CJCA blog.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014 at 1:37 PM

Pendleton Juvenile Correctional Facility (IN) Conducts New Joint Understanding and Cooperation Program


Pendleton Juvenile Correctional Facility in Indiana has piloted the Joint Understanding and Cooperation Program (JUCP). JUCP aims to improve the level of mutual respect between staff and youths through a better cultural environment.

The training takes place over three days and includes 14 training hours. Staff and youths attend separate sessions on the first two days of training, but come together for the third day which is instructed by both student facilitators and Indiana Department of Correction instructors. The program covers four different modules—Overview of Joint Understanding and Cooperation Program, which provides an overview of the program; Role Models, which explains role modeling and rapport; Redirecting Inappropriate Behavior, which teaches participants about conflict and appropriate responses to conflict; and Reinforcing Positive Behavior, which explains the appropriate use of positive reinforcement and how to demonstrate skills learned in the course.

Read the full article on the CJCA blog.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014 at 1:03 PM

Kansas and Indiana Facilities Engage Youths at Christmas Time


Performance-based Standards (PbS) is always excited to share some of the great initiatives that are going on in the field especially during this time of year. Many facilities arrange projects and activities for youths, staff and families during the holiday season.

Youths at Pendleton Juvenile Correctional Facility, a recent Barbara Allen-Hagen Award winner, have been busy creating cards and sun catchers, decorating housing units and baking cookies. Youths also helped deliver the items they made to a local Veteran’s Hospital and nursing home.

Read the full article at the CJCA blog.

Tuesday, December 31, 2013 at 12:34 PM

PbS Facilities Get Youths in the Holiday Spirit


Many facilities are helping youths and staff get into the holiday spirit by organizing various activities and events. Performance-based Standards (PbS) is proud to share some great stories from facilities across the country who are making this time of year memorable for youths and staff.

The Sacramento County Youth Detention Facility holds a decoration contest every year during the holidays. This year’s theme was “Fairytale Christmas”. Youths and staff decorated living units that were judged by a panel that included Sacramento officials and members from the community. The decoration contest has helped build rapport between youths and staff especially during the holidays while kids are away from friends and family.

Read the full article at the CJCA blog.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013 at 10:24 AM

Addressing the Unique Needs of Girls in the Juvenile Justice System


A trend that cannot be ignored is the rapid rise of girls entering the juvenile justice system. As more girls are becoming involved with the system, more focus has been placed on the unique needs and challenges that girls face as well as girl-focused reform efforts.

The Georgetown Center on Poverty, Inequality and Public Policy report “Improving the Juvenile Justice System for Girls” describes some key points about girls in the juvenile justice system. Firstly, girls are disproportionately “high need” and “low risk,” meaning they have a critical need for services, but do not pose a large threat to public safety. The report also notes that girls are also more likely than boys to be arrested for status offenses, are likely to have experienced traumatic events, have previously unaddressed health issues and come from a background of family conflict and residential instability.

Read the full article at the CJCA blog.

Thursday, December 19, 2013 at 11:43 AM

Truancy, Running Away and Other Status Offenses – The Coalition for Juvenile Justice Releases Policy and Practice Recommendations


Each year thousands of youth who’ve committed no crime become involved with the juvenile courts for behaviors such as running away, being truant, violating curfew laws, being “beyond the control of their parents” or committing other actions that are only an offense if you are under a certain age (known as “status offenses”). In many states, youth can even be held in juvenile detention for these offenses, if they violate a court order not to commit them again.

Read the full article on the CJCA blog.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013 at 11:54 AM

2014 PbS State Coordinators Training


The Performance-based Standards (PbS) State Coordinators Training is an annual training that convenes state agency leaders in PbS from across the country. At the training, state coordinators learn ways to utilize PbS to help face some of the most pressing and relevant issues in their jurisdictions as well as in the juvenile justice field.

The 2014 State Coordinator’s Training will be held Jan. 29-Feb. 1, 2014 in Tampa, FL at the Tampa Marriott Westshore Hotel. This year’s training centers around the theme of “Helping Kids Succeed” with the goal to help state coordinators rise up to today’s challenges and build resource networks within the PbS community.

Read the full article on the CJCA blog.

Friday, December 6, 2013 at 10:52 AM

Logansport Juvenile Correctional Facility Hosts Open House for a New Youth Transition Reentry Independent Living (YTRI) Unit


The Logansport Juvenile Correctional Facility recently held an open house for its newly opened Youth Transition Reentry Independent Living (YTRI) unit. This unit was opened as a result of the Indiana Department of Correction’s Division of Youth Services involvement in Performance-based Standards (PbS) and learning through national best practices that the use of isolation and confining youth to a room for long periods of time is detrimental to the treatment and developmental process. National best practices also show that isolation of youth should only be used for short periods of time and only for the protection of the youth from harming themselves or others. Such isolation should be brief, supervised and include mental health professionals to minimize the use of isolation and segregation.

Read the full article on the CJCA blog.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013 at 1:11 PM

New Report Highlights Negative Effects of Solitary Confinement for Youths

Monday, December 2, 2013 at 5:29 PM

IACP Survey Highlights Successes and Challenges of Responding to Juvenile Offenders


The International Chiefs of Police (IACP) recently, released an IACP publication “Law Enforcement’s Leadership Role in the Advancement of Promising Practices in Juvenile Justice” detailing the results of a nationwide survey of nearly 1,000 law enforcement leaders on juvenile justice.

The survey, which was conducted with support from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, is part of a multi year initiative to increase the leadership role of state and local law enforcement executives to effectively address systemic juvenile justice issues as well as improve local responses to juvenile offenders.

Read the full article on the CJCA blog.

Thursday, November 21, 2013 at 11:24 AM

A Case for the JJDPA: Building on 40 Years of Youth Justice Reform


As one who began his career in juvenile justice around the time Congress enacted the JJDPA, I’ve witnessed how this landmark legislation has guided youth correction systems to provide better treatment and services to youths for the last four decades.

When I directed a group home in New York City for the New York State Division for Youth in the early 1970s, many status offenders were being mixed in with juvenile delinquents in large institutions in my own state and throughout the country. The Deinstitutionalization of Status Offenders (DSO) provision of the JJDP Act of 1974 signaled the end to a practice that drove kids deeper into the youth corrections system.

Read the full article on the CJCA blog.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013 at 4:53 PM

To Understand Juvenile Detention, Listen to the Kids Inside


There is a world within prisons that only the prisoners know. Correctional officers, administrators, counselors and academics may all have access to a part of the life of a prisoner, but these windows by their nature only offer a limited view of the happenings behind the barbed wire. There's a disconnect that makes it difficult to see that world through a prisoner’s eyes. One way to bridge this gap in information is to go directly to the source: the prisoners.

The Council of Juvenile Correctional Administrators recently featured a short article by Kim Godfrey, the Executive Director of Performance Based Standards Learning Institute (PbSLi). PbSLi was an outgrowth of increasing awareness in the 1990s that youth prisons were dangerous for both staff and inmates and ineffective in providing strategies of rehabilitation. A congressionally mandated report resulted in a call for the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention to create adequate nationwide standards for juvenile facilities. Part of their work is the collection of data, and then putting the data into context in relation to best practices.

The article focuses on PbSLi’s latest brief, “What Youths Say Matters.” Godfrey writes: “I realize that what youths say about their experiences in custody is essential to understanding the truth about what happens in juvenile facilities and provides crucial information needed to manage safe and healthy juvenile facilities.” This, based on her 20 years of listening to and asking questions of kids in detention is a profound (and seldom embraced) position in the world of juvenile justice reform.

The findings focused on PbSLi’s research as well as the Pathways to Desistance study, and show a direct link between the quality of a youth’s experience in detention and their continued involvement in the system and likelihood to commit new offenses. “Youths perceiving a generally more positive facility experience were about 36 percent less likely to continue offending, according to self reports, and about 49 percent less likely to continue according to arrest and/or return to placement reports.”

This flies in the face of the popular idea that negative experiences while incarcerated somehow transform into positive outcomes. “Feeling safe” led to a 6 percent decline in “system involvement and antisocial behavior.” A perception of the fairness and harshness of the facility, along with interaction with antisocial peers also impacted how likely kids were to get back into criminal activity.

Simple strategies focused on youths understanding the facility’s rules, perceiving staff as helpful and school as good, coupled with less segregation, have been shown to correlate with an overall more positive experience. Most telling is the brief’s statement that, “Researchers and experienced professionals agree that staff-youth relationships have the greatest influence on a youth’s experience and ... offer the single largest opportunity to impact safety and rehabilitation.”

This is a key understanding that still has a long way to go in being widely accepted in the juvenile justice field. Too often punitive environments modeled on adult prisons remain in place, leaving no room for the kind of stable and positive adult-youth relationships that form the foundation of how kids become adults. This research should be disseminated widely. It not only make financial sense by reducing costly detentions, it makes moral sense that kids deserve to be treated as kids, no matter what they have done.

This article was retrieved from the Juvenile Justice Information Exchange.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013 at 10:52 AM

PbS Partners with Greene County, MO to Implement Zero Tolerance


There’s no debate that zero tolerance for sexual abuse is a mandatory and moral requirement for facilities that hold some of our most vulnerable youths. In preparation for the national Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA) standards and audits of youth correction and detention facilities, the Performance-based Standards (PbS) program has started a pilot project with the Greene County, Missouri, Detention Center to identify ways to support agency and facility efforts to create safe, healthy cultures free of sexual abuse.

Read the full article on the CJCA blog.

Monday, November 18, 2013 at 5:47 PM