2016 Barbara Allen-Hagen Finalist Spotlight: Ferris School

Posted by Patricia Rafferty
June 07, 2016

Performance-based Standards (PbS) is pleased to announce Ferris School in Wilmington, DE as one of the finalists for the 2016 Barbara Allen-Hagen Award in the correction category. The program was selected as a finalist for their improvement plan dedicated to reducing physical restraints, confinement time and idle waking hours.

In January 2015, the PbS Committee at Ferris School identified a connection between three crucial PbS outcome measures: idle waking time was leading to a lack of meaningful youth engagement, which contributed to youth-on-youth assaults, which culminated in increased physical restraint use by staff. They recognized that a comprehensive approach was needed in order to address these three issues as well as the increasing use of isolation. In order to generate youth buy-in, Ferris School developed an inter-unit competition. In addition to incentivizing reducing restraints and fights with casual clothing permissions and structured activities, the team developed additional events for staff, youth and families. The team at Ferris School remained committed to the transparency of their improvement processes by sharing their PbS Youth Climate Survey and Staff Climate Survey results, enabling staff and youth alike to see the positive effects of facility-wide policy and practice changes.

Thomas Spell, Ferris School Facility Administrator, believes the key to success and “moving so quickly through the PbS improvement model has simply been our building-wide total commitment to the process… PbS is now an everyday part of Ferris life.” Several judges were impressed with Ferris School’s new programs and dedication to including youth in the decision-making process; “A consistent focus on PbS data and the promotion of PbS into the everyday life of the facility has demonstrated good results”—especially powerful given a short time period.

The Barbara Allen-Hagen Award was established in 2007 to honor Barbara Allen-Hagen and her retirement from the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP). Her dedication to improving the quality of life in facilities for young offenders has helped drive PbS to its current success. The award is given to a correction, detention/assessment and community program who best exemplify PbS’ commitment to treating all youths in custody as one of our own by developing and implementing strategic plans to change practices that results in positive outcomes for youths, staff and families.

Winners of the award will be announced the night of the ceremony on Aug. 5, 2016. Stay tuned for more blogs about the finalists.

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Staff at Ferris School

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PbS information posted on the wall

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PbS Staff Appreciation Day at Ferris School