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NCCHC releases new edition of Standards for Health Services in Juvenile Facilities

The revised and updated standards are up-to-date with best practices and knowledge gained over last seven years

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A task force of physicians, nurse practitioners, nurses and mental health experts worked for more than 18 months to update the 2015 standards.


CHICAGO — The 2022 edition of NCCHC’s “Standards for Health Services in Juvenile Detention and Confinement Facilities” is now available. A Juvenile Standards Task Force, which included physicians, nurse practitioners, nurses and mental health experts from around the nation, worked for more than 18 months on this update to the 2015 “Juvenile Standards.”

The revision brings the standards up-to-date with best practices for evidence-based care of youths, and also into alignment with NCCHC’s 2018 “Standards for Health Services” in jails and prisons.

“Not only does this revision reflect our current understanding of trauma-informed care, which is critical for supporting youths who are involved in the justice system, but it also acknowledges the disproportionate confinement of minority youth,” Joseph Penn, MD, CCHP-MH, chairman of the Juvenile Standards Task Force, said. “Issues of special concern in juvenile correctional health care settings – such as self-injury, self-mutilative behaviors, and suicide attempts; LGBTQI youth; substance use; medicolegal issues such as use of restrictive housing, emergency psychotropic medication, and seclusion and restraint; cultural competency; ethical issues; and mandated reporting – receive attention in the standards.”

The standards reflect new knowledge gained over the last seven years, especially in the areas of supporting youth with adverse childhood experiences (ACES), such as abuse, neglect, and trauma.

“It is now widely accepted that kids and teens are not just small adults and need to be treated appropriately,” Penn said. “In the right circumstances, juvenile detention is an opportunity for a good diagnostic evaluation in a safe environment and can be the beginning of effective therapies to help them avoid risky choices as teens and adults.“

Penn recommends that any facility holding youth use the new standards.

“No matter where a youth is housed – jail, juvenile detention, or immigration detention – following NCCHC’s standards will give appropriate guidance and avoid poor outcomes for staff and youth alike.”

NCCHC standards are a vital resource that provides the framework to ensure that systems, policies, and procedures are in place to produce the best and most effective outcomes. Compliance with these nationally recognized standards helps ensure that facilities provide constitutionally acceptable care and provides a pathway for continuous improvement.

NCCHC accreditation surveys of juvenile facilities will assess compliance with the new standards starting July 1, 2023. As of May 1, the Certified Correctional Health Professional (CCHP) exam will reference the 2022 juvenile health standards.