TOPEKA – Kansas Juvenile Correctional Complex (KJCC) is garnering national accolades for a program aimed at reducing the number of female offenders requiring interventions for suicidal or self-harming behaviors.
Based on the program’s success, KJCC was announced Friday as the corrections’ recipient of the 2018 Barbara Allen-Hagen Award, the highest honor given by Performance-based Standards (PbS). PbS is an initiative by the Council of Juvenile Correctional Administrators that provides national standards for juvenile justice agencies, facilities and residential care providers.
KJCC received the award Aug. 3 during the PbS State/Agency Coordinators Training and Awards Night ceremony in Minneapolis. Established in 2007 to honor retired federal Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention employee Barbara Allen-Hagen, the award recognizes implementation of best practices that result in positive outcomes for youth, staff and families.
The Topeka juvenile facility set out to improve its suicide precaution protocols in 2012 when KJCC’s number of female youth with suicidal behavior without injuries rose nearly eight times above the average of other PbS-aligned facilities. By April of 2018, KJCC’s average dropped to zero. Similarly, the facility’s monthly average of hours that female offenders were isolated in their rooms due to being on crisis level fell from nearly 524 hours in 2015 to slightly more than 10 hours in 2018.
“Winning the Barbara Allen Hagen award means everything to us as a facility,” said Georgia Becker Scheve, KJCC’s PbS site coordinator. “It showcases and acknowledges all of the hard work and dedication that the staff, as a team, put in.”
The KJCC’s behavioral health team worked to improve three deficit areas in its suicide prevention program: staff training, suicide assessment and detection and intra-facility communication and collaboration.
Aside from increasing access to behavioral health services, KJCC implemented daily behavioral health contacts with each youth and instituted weekly multi-disciplinary team meetings to discuss youth who may be at risk and formulate plans for intervention.
However, Becker Scheve credited KJCC’s success in large part to a change in the overall culture of the facility. Offenders realized long-term suicide precaution placements were no longer needing to take place and staff became better equipped to identify and manage youth with suicidal and self-harming behaviors, she said.
Every KJCC employee now receives eight-hour juvenile justice training that emphasizes warning signs, procedures and interventions for working with youth at-risk of attempting suicide.
“At KJCC, we strive to be the best facility we can for our youth and staff, and with this award – it shows that we are well on our way to achieving just that,” Becker Scheve said.