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Guidance to Support Ongoing Mitigation Efforts in the Bureau of Juvenile Justice Services to Prevent the Spread of the COVID-2019  

Issued: February 16, 2021


Youth Development Centers (YDCs) and Youth Forestry Camps (YFCs), The Bureau of Juvenile Justice Services (BJJS) — Central Office


The purpose of this outreach is to provide general guidance reflecting the Governor’s and Secretary of Health’s COVID Mitigation Orders impacting services to youth and their families. 

This guidance replaces the guidance  previously issued on June 5, 2020 that was based on the Governor’s strategic three-phased approach (red/yellow/green) to reopen the Commonwealth and ongoing mitigation efforts to limit the community spread of COVID-19. 

As the Commonwealth continues its efforts to prevent the spread of COVID-19, the COVID-19 Early Warning Monitoring System Dashboard has been developed for measuring COVID-19 community transmission. Each county will be monitored for COVID-19 community transmission and will be given a percentage rating based on its COVID-19 positivity rate. The county positivity rate is based on the percentage of tests in the county that were positive for the COVID-19 virus. YDC/YFC facilities should consider their residents’ county level of COVID-19 community transmission when making decisions and when creating agency-specific policies. As always, all service delivery and decisions shall prioritize youth and family safety and will consider updated information from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Pennsylvania Department of Health (DOH) and local guidance/decisions.  

Safety precautions, including social distancing and building safety protocols shall be followed for the purpose of minimizing the spread of COVID-1

Visitation requirements for Child Residential Facilities, Child and Youth Agencies, Foster Care Agencies and Adoption Agencies:

      • In-person contact, as required by the Child Protective Services Law (CPSL) for child protective services (CPS) and general protective services (GPS) investigations, will continue with strict safety precautions that comply with DOH and CDC guidance;
      • Telework for non-direct care staff is mandatory unless impossible;
      • Previously issued DOH guidance for universal precautions applies;
      • All agencies with in-person operations must follow business and building safety orders;
      • BJJS and YDC/YFC facilities must follow the most recent orders and guidelines to include masking requirements, travel restrictions, and continued social distancing requirements; and
      • All YDC/YFC facilities must screen employees prior to each shift, or for employees that don't work shifts, before the employee starts work. Visitors should be screened prior to entering the building for visitation. When children return from home visits, screening protocols should be in place to assess for the need to quarantine (See Symptom Screening Tool).

Visitation requirements for YDC/YFC Facilities:

      • Visitation frequency and type (in-person/virtual) will continue to be directed by the court for youth under their jurisdiction. All in-person visitation should consider the unique needs of the youth and their family and follow the Governor's Orders and updated DOH protocols.

Contact the appropriate BJJS Regional Director, Division Director or the Bureau Director before making any changes to your business practices as soon as possible. Examples of changes in business practices include, but are not limited to:

      • Suspending services at a facility or temporarily closing programs.
      • Reducing or eliminating the provision of placement for youth in a program.

BJJS Senior Leadership Team

BJJS Director, Charles Neff 
Central Region Director, Brian Jones
Eastern Region Director, Aaron Wilk
Div. of Admin. Director, Lois George-Huling
​PACCT Div. Director, Russell Zemanek


DC/YFC facilities should continue to refer to the "Guidance Regarding Suspension of Regulatory Requirements for OCYF Licensees During the COVID-19 Pandemic".

Stay Informed

The Department of Human Services (DHS) continues to monitor information from DOH and the CDC. Guidance developed by DHS will be centrally located at here, which will be updated as additional guidance becomes available. Over time, information will continue to be shared and disseminated to address questions and concerns as they arise and new information on COVID-19 as it develops. We encourage you to continue to consult these resources for updates on COVID-19, information on staying healthy, and updates on the situation in Pennsylvania.