Text of WordDoc: BJJS Visitation Guidance for Distribution 7-21-20
Keeping our youth as safe as possible from contracting COVID – 19 is critical, and limiting in person contact is paramount to managing the spread of COVID – 19. Of equal importance is the health of the staff supervising youth. At this time, the Bureau of Juvenile Justice Services (BJJS) is screening all BJJS direct care staff for illness upon arrival to work. It is imperative we do everything in our power to keep direct care staff healthy and free of disease. Should a BJJS Youth Development Center or Youth Forestry Camp be unable to provide adequate supervision for the youth under our care, the potential for additional safety risks, beyond that of COVID – 19, become a threat to the safety and security of our youth. For many youth in the Youth Development Centers and Youth Forestry Camps, there are no additional placement options as BJJS is considered a provider of last resort.
BJJS is implementing a temporary "No Visitation" policy, as well as a temporary "No Home Visits/No in person Court appearances" policy for all Youth Development Centers and Youth Forestry Camps operated by the Commonwealth.
These temporary policies will be in place until further notice. BJJS will review this temporary policy on a weekly basis and resume normal visitation practices as soon as it is reasonably safe to do so.
All visitors would be inclusive of, but not limited to, probation departments, attorneys, clergy members, family members, and advocates. Probation departments, legal counsel, and clergy members who must see their client in person for emergency situations will be screened for health concerns upon their arrival, as all BJJS direct care staff are screened upon arrival to the workplace, and their interaction will be limited only to the emergency situation. Admittance to the facility will be denied if the visiting individual screens positively for illness. Accommodations for all individuals normally considered visitors will be made and coordinated through the use of telephones, video conferencing, and/or skype/facetime to ensure regular and ongoing contact is occurring. These efforts will be recorded in the youth's file.
In addition, BJJS will offer additional opportunities for youth to speak to and interact with their family members, above and beyond their routine scheduled communication, during this difficult time. Phone calls are regular occurrences for youth and their families, and we will add opportunities to video conference, skype, and facetime so that youth and families are better able to maintain connection with one another. These efforts and interactions will also be recorded in the youth's file.
Court appearances will also be held via video conferencing and/or telephone communication. In person appearances for Court proceedings should only occur for emergency situations in which video conferencing and/or telephone communication would not suffice.
In the event a youth contracts COVID-19, BJJS is prepared to provide services to that youth. Thank you for your collaboration and understanding as we work through this challenging time together.