PBIS in juvenile justice looks much like PBIS in traditional settings: a set of integrated practices used consistently by all staff in all settings to promote positive behavior. Of course, juvenile justice has unique characteristics to be considered when designing PBIS systems. Within these environments, safety and security are paramount; all practices must align with priorities to keep youth and staff safe and maintain security of the environment. PBIS teams in juvenile justice facilities of all sizes and jurisdictions around the country are demonstrating that PBIS can be implemented successfully in juvenile justice settings, with slight adaptations for the demands of the setting.
A few of the unique characteristics found in juvenile justice settings are:
Most rules in juvenile justice settings focus on what not to do. PBIS revises these rules to focus on behaviors you want to see from youth.
Policies around safety and security limit how facilities design acknowledgement systems. PBIS teams need to decide what type of acknowledgement system they’d like to use and work to make it fit within the facility’s structures.
It is difficult to identify types of incentives to offer that work within juvenile justice facilities. As a result, PBIS teams brainstorm and ask for input from front-line staff who know what would work best and what is allowable.
Finding time when all team members can attend PBIS meetings is a challenge. Staff outside the school program don’t have planning time or conference periods. Often they aren’t allowed overtime pay to come in early or stay late for meetings. It’s important to include representation from every setting, including corrections, education, and treatment. Teams have to either identify staff who are available for monthly meetings or offer coverage so direct care staff can attend.
Juvenile justice settings operate a wide range of programs to accommodate diverse treatment needs. This might include specialized programs for substance abuse or cognitive behavior treatment. PBIS teams can identify which of the existing programs would work for youth needing Tier 2 and Tier 3 supports and look for ways to include them in the framework.
More than 50,000 youth in the U.S. are placed in secure-care residential facilities due to involvement in the juvenile justice system. Through policy and best practices guidance, juvenile justice jurisdictions are encouraged to strengthen positive, instructional, and therapeutic programming to better meet the diverse academic, behavioral, social, and mental health needs of young people in their care.PBIS provides a framework for designing systems to teach and support positive behavior among all youth during all activities and settings throughout the facility. Through a multi-tiered approach, PBIS practices increase positive behaviors in all youth and provide more intensive supports for youth with the greatest needs.
PBIS requires leadership and systemic supports. The foundational elements of these supports in juvenile justice jurisdictions are:
This team determines the scope of the PBIS initiative and identifies:
This team is responsible for developing and guiding all aspects of PBIS within the facility
This team leader manages and guides implementation at each facility. They serve as a liaison between the facility-level PBIS team and the central office PBIS leadership team.
Facilities need efficient data systems so PBIS team members can access relevant data to make decisions. Preferably, facilities have access to data systems that provide graphed data that can be disaggregated across variables of interest, such as nature, location, and time of day of disciplinary infractions
All front-line, professional, and administrative staff need access to ongoing training and on-site coaching to support their implementation.
Like traditional settings, the goal of PBIS in juvenile justice settings is to establish a multi-tiered system of increasingly intensive supports to effectively meet the needs of all youth in a facility.
Tier 1 in juvenile justice settings facilitates a proactive, positive, and preventative approach to youth behavior. Tier 1 elements include:
Most facilities find implementing Tier 1 components correctly and consistently leads to fewer disciplinary incidents. However, some youth will continue to exhibit challenging behaviors. In these cases, Tier 2 practices provide more reminders, feedback, and specialized instruction for those youth. Programs like Check-In Check-Out, Aggression Replacement Training, or Merging Two Worlds are all examples of Tier 2 supports.
Tier 3 supports are student-focused and intensive enough to support severe challenging behaviors. Juvenile justice is, by nature, a multidisciplinary setting. School personnel, corrections officers, psychologists, nutritionists, social workers, and doctors can collaborate to plan for intensive Tier 3 supports.
If you are interested in learning more about PBIS in juvenile justice, or want to get started with PBIS in your own facility, we encourage you to contact one of the following individuals. Any of these PBIS leaders can help you, or can direct you to someone who can help you get started.
Texas State University
Department of Curriculum & Instruction
University of Oregon
358 Clinical Services Building 1265
You can also contact your state PBIS network coordinator [INSERT LINK TO STATE COORDINATOR LIST] who can connect you with local resources.
There are several resources available related to PBIS in juvenile justice settings. One to get you started is:
This practice brief from the PBIS Forum details the perspectives of personnel working with youth in restrictive settings. Included are their concerns, barriers they’ve faced implementing PBIS in their facilities, and possible solutions.
Check out these samples, case studies and lesson plans and use them as a springboard to improve your own implementation
Resources in this section include journal articles, templates, practice descriptions, fact sheets, and much more.
Presentations about their experiences, published research, and best practices from recent sessions, webinars, and trainings
Publications listed below include every eBook, monograph, brief, and guide written by the PBIS Technical Assistance Center.
This website was developed under a grant from the US Department of Education, #H326S180001. However, the contents do not necessarily represent the policy of the US Department of Education, and you should not assume endorsement by the Federal Government. Project Officer, Renee Bradley. Please cite as: OSEP Technical Assistance Center on Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (2019). Positive Behavioral Interventions & Supports [Website]. Retrieved from www.pbis.org.