2015 Barbara Allen-Hagen Award Video Spotlight: Muskegon River Youth Center

Posted by Patricia Rafferty
September 03, 2015

Performance-based Standards (PbS) congratulates Muskegon River Youth Center in Ladoga, IN as the 2015 Barbara Allen-Hagen award winner in the detention category. Muskegon River Youth Center was selected as a winner of this award—given to the facility who best develops and implements a plan to improve outcomes—for decreasing the amount of time youths spent in isolation by 72% through incident reviews.

To celebrate the 20th anniversary of PbS, the winners also received a video to highlight their facility and improvements.

In this video, it is clear Muskegon River Youth Center has a more welcoming environment than expected from a detention facility. Muskegon River Youth Center recently opened its doors, and the main priority has been to maintain a safe and trustworthy environment to keep kids safe and happy. Volunteer Coordinator David Bower said: “From the moment the youth arrive at Muskegon River, we want them to know it’s safe. They don’t have to look over their shoulder.” The youths come from diverse backgrounds and experiences, and the staff are able to help the youths by showing they care and ensuring that everything they do is for the youths. Muskegon River Youth Center has various recreation and education programs to keep the youths purposefully engaged, motivated, and learning important life skills.

The video explains that the administrators saw their average duration of isolation was well above the PbS field average and decided they needed to make a change. To make a positive change in these conditions, Program Director and PbS Site Coordinator Leah Miels said: “The first thing we focused on was staff training and the detriment of isolation on, especially, a youth’s mental health.” She continued to say the success of their improvement plan was that every staff member was dedicated to meeting their goal.

Director and Facility Administrator Ashley Taflinger is as dedicated to ensuring positive outcomes for the youths in her care as she is to making positive changes at Muskegon River Youth Center. She said: “The most important part is reaching the kids, and showing them that light at the end of the tunnel… our goal from day one, is just have that kid leave with something more than what they came in with.”

Congratulations and thank you to Muskegon River Youth Center for your commitment to making positive changes and to treating all youths in custody as one of your own!