Academic journal article Education & Treatment of Children

PBIS in Restrictive Settings: The Time Is Now

Academic journal article Education & Treatment of Children

PBIS in Restrictive Settings: The Time Is Now

Article excerpt

It is never an ideal situation for an adolescent to have reached the point where he or she is placed in more restrictive settings such as alternative programs and residential facilities or be involved in the juvenile justice (JJ) system, and much work needs to be done to provide supports to children and youth before that point (Mendel, 2011). The work of prevention, however, is ongoing and we must continue to remember and address the needs of youth residing in restrictive settings today. On any given day, over 70,000 youth are held in residential placement outside their homes (Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, 2011). For their well-being, and that of our communities, it is essential that restrictive settings prioritize the implementation of effective, evidence-based practices designed to reduce recidivism through positive, humane practices. One of these practices is positive behavior interventions and supports (PBIS).

The PBIS framework and its benefits have long been discussed in traditional classroom settings, and since the mid-1990s PBIS has been more steadily integrated within the alternative education, residential, and JJ settings. To some, discussing the use of PBIS in restrictive settings may seem counterintuitive because PBIS is generally touted as a prevention measure. For youth in restrictive settings, it may seem that prevention efforts are perhaps too little, too late and that a stronger or more punitive approach may be needed. As demonstrated throughout this special issue (see Ennis, Jolivette & Boden; George, George, Kern & Fogt; Sprague, Scheuermann, Wang, Nelson, Jolivette & Vincent; and Swain-Bradway, Swoszowski, Boden & Sprague in this issue), that clearly is not the case. It is essential that a school- or facility-wide framework be in place that allows for behavioral interventions and treatment of mental-health, physical-health, and/or substance-abuse needs, so that the youth and staff may use the majority of their time focusing on educational gains and developing skills allowing the youth to succeed when they return to their homes, communities, and schools.

Youth Within Restrictive Settings

When you stop and take a closer look at the youth who are in restrictive-care settings, most of us would find the trauma and challenges they have faced untenable and overwhelming in our adult lives. Large proportions of youth in restrictive settings have experienced abuse or neglect, poor and unsafe neighborhoods, homelessness, or have been in and out of the child welfare system (Leone & Weinberg, 2010; Sedlak & McPherson, 2010; Toro, Dworsky, & Fowler, 2007). Many experience mental health issues or educational disabilities that make it difficult to succeed in school and are disconnected from their community schools and/or families (Burrell & Warboys, 2000; Quinn, Rutherford, Leone, Osher, & Poirier, 2005). Adolescents in restrictive settings also are disproportionately youth of color who, given the risk factors listed, possibly have demonstrated inappropriate behaviors in their school settings. Schools and adults in their lives may have responded to these behaviors ineffectively, resulting in disciplinary actions that lead these youth into more restrictive settings or the JJ system (Fabelo et al., 2011). When youth have reached the point at which they are receiving educational services and/or residing in more restrictive settings, they likely have experienced school failure or committed more than one offense and have spent a significant amount of time out of school. As a result, they are referred to a more restrictive setting that requires a youth to leave his or her family, home, and community school and enter a restrictive environment or a locked facility from which the youth cannot come and go.

However, with the right staff and programming, time in a restrictive setting can be designed to provide a true rehabilitative opportunity for youth. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.