Achieving Positive Outcomes
Time in custody can and should be a catchment opportunity to help youths prepare to return to living with their families and communities so they are not likely to reoffend. PbS standards and performance measures promote practices research has shown are the most likely to give youths a meaningful second chance when they leave and stop the cycle in and out of facilities, whether for juveniles or adults.
Measuring positive youth outcomes is the antithesis of recidivism; they are measures of success, not failure. They provide clear expectations of the skills, competencies, experiences, beliefs and supports youths need to have with them when they leave juvenile justice systems and show the impact of facility operations, programs and services on the youths.
The impact on youths has proven essential to long-term success and the only way to truly know is to ask the youths. For example, fundamental fairness is key to how willing youths, and all of us, are to adhere to societal norms and laws. A facility may have written policies and rules to fairly administer sanctions and incentives, but in order to know if the policies are being implemented fairly, they need to ask the youths. Similarly, a facility may help a youth to earn a high school diploma and certificate in a trade but if the youth doesn’t have confidence and hope they can get and keep a job and afford basic life necessities.
PbS provides several surveys to understand the impact of operations, programs and services on youths as well as staff and families. There are two surveys of youths: the PbS Youth Climate Survey administered during the months of April and October to youths in the facility at that time and the PbS Youth Reentry Survey, administered to youths shortly before they leave.
Surveying the youths, staff and families is an easy and efficient opportunity to collect meaningful data to continuously ensure juvenile justice agencies are providing safety and effective programming. Some of the perceptions of youth, staff and families that PbS participants have found most helpful focus on:
- Understanding the rules and their rights
- Perceptions of safety
- Experiences of school, medical services
- Fairness of rules, of staff sanctions
- Relationship with staff
- Preparedness for reentry
- Training and support by supervisors
- Training needs
- Personal safety and how well staff follow safety procedures
- Relationships with youths and families
- Authority to use force and ability to use incentives and rewards
- Understanding the rules and their child’s rights
- Feeling their child was safe
- Being treated with respect
- Feeling welcomed and that their opinion was valued
- Understanding, agreement with and ability to comply with treatment and discharge plans
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PbS uniquely offers participants outcome measures aligned with research and best practices to manage facility and program operations, programs and services in a timely manner so leaders and staff can continuously monitor conditions of confinement and quality of life.