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Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports for Youth At-Risk and Involved in Juvenile Corrections, Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS)

The PBIS model is a research-based framework that teaches and supports students in developing appropriate behaviors and creating positive school environments. The goal of PBIS programs in juvenile detention facilities is to provide positive behavioral support and enhance protective factors in schools, thus building student resilience and reducing negative outcomes. Some key elements of effective youth detention PBIS programs are consistency in rules and routines, clarity of expectations, procedures for encouraging positive behavior and discouraging misbehavior, and ongoing monitoring and evaluation of program effectiveness.

The Illinois Youth Center in Harrisburg, IL, was the first youth detention facility to introduce the PBIS model. The model emphasizes clearly defining expected behaviors and then teaching, exemplifying, and rewarding those behaviors. Primary intervention strategies included an orientation session upon entrance into the facility that introduced behavioral expectations, as well as a social skills class for students to attend on a weekly basis. The facility also implemented secondary interventions, such as mentoring, student-teacher mediations, and peer mediations, as well as intensive behavioral management programs to provide individualized support to students with the most extreme behavioral problems. As a result of this program, the number of fights among students at the Illinois Youth Center decreased significantly, and the school has been able to use PBIS data and strategies to investigate and address any issues that do arise.

The Iowa Juvenile Home in Toledo, IA, implemented the PBIS model based on two philosophies: strength-based programming and the Circle of Courage treatment model. Strength-based programming refers to building programming around student strengths and teaching students to use these strengths in positive ways. The Circle of Courage model encourages youth to become empowered in the areas of mastery, belonging, generosity, and independence. Staff at the Iowa Juvenile Home developed a set of behavioral expectations based on the Circle of Courage traits and shared them with students in a formal classroom setting. The facility also provides individualized and smaller group support to students who struggle to meet the behavioral expectations.