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Juvenile Justice Services

Commitment to Youth

From the time of referral, the Bureau of Juvenile Justice Services (BJJS) ensures that every resident receives individualized treatment services based upon criminogenic risk, need, and responsivity factors. The BJJS' state court liaison specialists work closely with Pennsylvania's county juvenile court system, the Youth Development Center/Youth Forestry Camp (YDC/YFC) system and private provider agencies to ensure residents are placed in the least restrictive and most appropriate setting.

BJJS has mandated the implementation of the Master Case Planning System (MCPS). Within the framework of Balanced and Restorative Justice (BARJ) principles, this system is designed to accomplish four tasks:

    1. Ensure maximum participation on the part of the resident, families, courts, probation officers, clinical and educational staff in the development of the competency-based continuum of services.
    2. Ensure standardization in documentation and the case planning process for all facilities.
    3. Provide services that are designed to return the resident to the community better equipped to be a productive member of society.
    4. Ensure that each resident is held accountable to the victim, the community, the court, and family.

Limited English Proficiency (LEP)

To meet the needs of individuals having limited English proficiency (LEP), facilities throughout the YDC/YFC system are prepared to make reasonable accommodations; to include oral language interpretation, translation of written materials, and notice to persons with LEP of their right to language assistance and their availability of such assistance free of charge.

Educational Services

Educational services are provided through agreements between the Pennsylvania Department of Education (DOE) and local intermediate units. Instructional education is provided 180 days each year and offers a highly structured, small classroom environment designed to provide individual attention. Educational programs are designed to meet the needs of each resident. In order to best meet the educational needs of each resident, facility and educational staff work together to develop a comprehensive education plan and separate Individual Education Plan (IEP) as required for each student. Our faculty teaches core subjects as well as more specialized needs, such as life skills and vocational training.

One of the objectives of BJJS educational services is to upgrade the residents' skills in order to enable them to return to and function in the public school system. It is also encouraged that the residents achieve the highest grade level possible. Residents are supported and encouraged to obtain either their high school diploma or GED. For residents who qualify, we provide opportunities for post-secondary education.

Career & Technical Training

The Pennsylvania Academic and Career/Technical Training Alliance (PACTT) has been recognized as an essential component in Pennsylvania's Juvenile Justice System Enhancement Strategy (JJSES). The project strives to ensure that delinquent youth receive appropriate academic, and career and technical training opportunities through committed affiliate partnerships with residential, community based and post-placement providers across the juvenile justice community.

PACTT was originally sponsored by the Pennsylvania Council of Chief Juvenile Probation Officers and received funding from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency, and a fellowship provided to the project director by the Stoneleigh Center. In recognition of the important value that the project offers to one of the commonwealth's most vulnerable populations, finding a long-term solution ensuring stability of the program was deemed essential. This goal was realized by formally transitioning the primary functions of PACTT to BJJS through an extended private/public partnership.

To ensure that the effort continues to effectively meet the critical needs of the juvenile justice community, an executive steering committee (ESC) comprised of key system stakeholders was assembled to monitor activities and provide direction to those responsible for the transition. The ESC includes representatives from the Department of Human Services (DHS), the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency (PCCD), the Juvenile Court Judges' Commission (JCJC), the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE), the Department of Labor & Industry (L&I), the Pennsylvania Council of Chief Juvenile Probation Officers (PCCJPO) and the Pennsylvania Council of Children, Youth & Family Services (PCCYFS). This important interagency initiative is designed to further develop job readiness, to ensure that effectively rigorous academic standards are provided to the adjudicated population and to significantly enhance employability skills for those youth involved within the affiliate programs.

To accomplish this task, BJJS utilizes a regional staffing approach and resources to assist service implementation by affiliated agencies, prospective partners and identified stakeholders. Adjudicated Youth Education Programs Consultants within PACTT's Western and Eastern regions assist agencies in meeting their academic, technical training, job skills training and work-related services goals.  Specifically designated as field positions, these individuals serve the system's needs by providing on-site technical support, academic and career program assessment and other supportive services. In addition to direct program service, the regional staff serves as resource personnel to county probation departments, Workforce Investment Boards (WIB), post-secondary education and training institutions and community business partners that provide employment opportunities to the youth workforce.

Residential providers, community-based programmers, educational groups, business & industry personnel, county officials and those interested in exploring potential opportunities or assistance are encouraged to contact the project leadership identified below to learn more about this exciting endeavor.

PACTT Contact Information:  Russell Zemanek, Division Director, rzemanek@pa.gov

Work Training Program

Residents are afforded the opportunity to participate in Work Training Programs (WTP) as an integral component of their treatment and competency development. WTPs must comply with Child Labor Laws, which outline prohibited job duties and the amount of hours participants are allowed to work given their particular age. In accordance with the PA Juvenile Act (42 Pa.C.S.Sec.6351), WTP participants must contribute 75 percent of their earnings to restitution as part of the treatment and rehabilitation process. Participants that do not owe restitution, court costs or fines are encouraged (not mandated) to donate a portion of their earnings to a non-profit organization of their choice. The agency must document the disbursement of all resident funds.

There are several WTP categories and titles for residents to choose from within each facility. Some programs offer job opportunities within the community. WTPs must include an educational component that focuses on pre-employment skills, including but not limited to resume development, job searching, budgeting, banking, checkbook balancing and interviewing skills. In addition, each WTP must include an application and interview process.

BJJS Dietary Services

The BJJS Dietary Services Department places the utmost importance on providing nutrients for the optimum health and growth of residents. This is managed in part by meeting the requirements of the National School Lunch/School Breakfast Program and After School Snack Programs. Free, nutritious meals are available to all residents every day. BJJS employs a licensed dietician who establishes and interprets guidelines as they relate to food and nutrition services. Every effort is made to accommodate residents with special dietary needs due to disabilities, allergies, or religious beliefs.

The last annual BJJS Wellness Committee Meeting was held on June 20, 2019.  If you'd like to get involved, please call the department at 717-787-9532 and ask to speak with the dietary management services specialist.

BJJS, as a participant in the Child Nutrition Program, understands the importance of proper nutrition and access to food during the entire year, including the summer. Free, nutritious free meals are available for children and teens 18 years and younger at many locations throughout the nation throughout the summer while school is out of session. Locations for participating sites are updated in the spring prior to the end of the school year.

In order to locate sites that serve free meals to children during the summer, parents and guardians can take one of the following actions steps:

    • Call 211.
    • Call 1-866-3HUNGRY or 1-877-8HAMBRE.
    • Text "MEALPA" to 877-877 during the summer months.
    • Text "FOOD" or "COMIDA" to 877-877 during the summer months for locations outside of PA.
    • Visit www.fns.usda.gov/summerfoodrocks.
    • Smartphone users can visit www.rangeapp.org.

BJJS is an equal opportunity provider. https://www.fns.usda.gov/cr/fns-nondiscrimination-statement

BJJS Health Services

BJJS Health Services is responsible for the planning, development, direction, coordination, and oversight of healthcare services across the YDC/YFC system.  BJJS Health Services provides access to comprehensive quality health services through an integrated team approach that:

    • Recognizes the needs of residents, staff, and stakeholders;
    • Emphasizes prevention, wellness and health maintenance by encouraging healthy lifestyle choices; and
    • Ensures services are clinically appropriate and medically necessary.

The provision of health care services often presents unique challenges as many of our residents have not had consistent access to preventive care or a medical provider. Physician, psychiatric, and dental services are provided at each of our sites. Upon admission, each resident receives a comprehensive health care screening that includes a health history, complete physical examination, immunization status and administration of missed vaccines, dental evaluation and prophylaxis, vision screening, hearing screening, psychiatric evaluation as indicated, and routine laboratory studies including testing for sexually transmitted diseases.

Ongoing and follow-up health care and treatment are arranged and provided based on individually identified needs. Ancillary health care services such as specialist referrals, pharmacy, inpatient care, diagnostic imaging, and physical therapy are arranged through our medical partners in the community. In addition, each of our sites has a process in place for the provision of emergency medical care should a need arise.

Each of our sites has nurses on staff who manage and coordinate the health care needs of our residents. Nurses conduct sick calls, serve as liaisons between the site and ancillary health care service providers, teach health education classes, perform individual health counseling, and participate in the multi-disciplinary team process.

BJJS Dietary Services and BJJS Health Services work collaboratively to develop Health and Wellness Programs that will provide measurable goals for nutrition education, physical activity and meals to promote overall wellness to address the growing problem of childhood obesity.