In 2016, FPJDC was selected as the 2016 PbS Barbara Allen-Hagen Award Winner for Detention facilities because the culture change worked. Leadership and staff embraced the caregiver approach and over time the habit of putting youths in isolation and room confinement eroded. FPJDC’s use of isolation and room confinement dropped by 90 percent, from 137 uses to 13 in a month. And for the last two data collections, the average time for each use decreased from three hours to one hour.
FPJDC opened in 1992 and is a co-ed facility that serves up to 133 beds for youths ages 10-18 years old with a staff of about 100. The youths stay an average of 33 days and come from all over the state of Louisiana. It is located about an hour from New Orleans across Lake Pontchartrain on about 40 acres in the rural town of Covington.
The leadership team modeled the new approach and worked hard to include all staff in better ways to engage youths. The key to FPJDC’s success was the implementation of a new response for compliant youths who committed a minor offense. Previously, the youth’s misbehavior would result in automatic time in isolation and room confinement. Instead, the youth is removed from the provoking situation, given the opportunity to reflect on and talk about their behavior with staff and rejoin their peers the moment he or she is ready. FPJDC also launched a new system of mediations and Individual Behavior Plans that set situation-specific sanctions and a resident mentorship program offering one-on-one counseling and goal-setting with staff. Selected staff were specially trained to serve as de-escalation teams to diffuse situations before something happens and a special team was added to each shift.
All was coordinated by creative communications that kept staff updated on progress and goals and provided a forum for ideas and feedback. FPJDC developed log sheets for updates, a centrally-located communications board and regular emails. FPJDC’s Courtney Casnave explained in the application: “Beyond this, our most important communication improvement was giving PbS login credentials to staff from a variety of departments and rankings allowing more individual access to make official progress notes and offer input.”
- Written by Kim Godfrey
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