New and ongoing research shows that solitary confinement and isolation are harmful and counterproductive to youth development and can be an ineffective intervention. Across the country, states are taking action to limit or end room confinement and isolation. During the 2020 Legislative Session, House Bill 2277 passed, prohibiting solitary confinement and limiting isolation and room confinement in Washington’s Juvenile Rehabilitation (JR) facilities.
DCYF has made great strides in reducing room confinement. Both Green Hill School and Naselle Youth Camp have received the Performance-based Standards (PbS) Barbara Allen-Hagen Award for reducing room confinement and improving practices on campus. Because of the strong foundations in place in JR’s secure facilities, DCYF was recently selected as one of four cohorts to participate in Georgetown University’s Ending Isolation in Youth Facilities Certificate program. The program is designed to support leaders in ending isolation and promoting positive outcomes for youth, staff, and communities.
This month, a team of DCYF research staff, Green Hill School direct care and mental health staff, JR headquarters staff, and a youth mentor/community partner will head to Washington, D.C., for the week-long training with national experts on cutting-edge ideas, policies, and practices. When they return, they will implement a capstone pilot project at Green Hill School with support from Georgetown University. The project’s goal is to contribute to a culture of safety and well-being, with targeted strategies for engagement and de-escalation. If successful, Green Hill School may also be evaluated for certification as a promising practice site and serve as a model for others to replicate.
“We are so proud to have been selected as a pilot site,” said JR Assistant Secretary Felice Upton. “As part of our firm commitment to trauma-informed environments, we are dedicated to eliminating isolation and the harm it causes. Within trauma-informed environments, our young people and employees are supported and protected while significantly disrupting the school-to-prison pipeline.”