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Residential Services


The Office of Residential Services provides continued care for a youth who is committed to the custody of the Department.

Overview

The Office of Residential Services oversees the Department’s development, maintenance and management of facilities and programs that meet the needs of Florida’s delinquent youths and promote public safety.  This includes the development and management of a technology-based juvenile commitment management and classification placement system.  This system is designed to place a youth in the most appropriate program to meet a youth’s individualized treatment needs.

The Office of Residential Services provides continued care for a youth who is committed to the custody of the Department.  In Florida, only a judge can place a youth into a Florida Department of Juvenile Justice commitment program level.  However, the Department’s commitment manager works with the child’s juvenile probation officer (JPO) to recommend to the court an appropriate residential commitment level—should residential commitment be appropriate for the treatment and rehabilitative needs of the youth who has broken the law.

For a youth who is being considered for commitment, the JPO schedules a commitment conference that follows a pre-conference review with the supervisor.  The commitment manager conducts a multidisciplinary commitment conference for each youth who is being considered for an appearance in juvenile or adult court.  The commitment manager establishes the Department’s recommendation for court disposition in each case presented that is based on input from conference participants and the youth’s Comprehensive Evaluation. 

Primary consideration for a commitment recommendation is public safety and meeting the individual treatment needs of the youth and to ensure no other options are viable at a less restrictive level to reduce or eliminate the youth’s threat to public safety.  Once the court has ordered the youth to a specific restrictiveness level, it is the responsibility of the Department to determine the most appropriate placement available within that restrictiveness level.

Consistent with § 985, Fla. Stat., the Department’s residential commitment programs are grouped into four custody classifications based on the assessed risk to public safety.  The restrictiveness levels of placement represent increasing restriction on the youth’s movement and freedom.  The least restrictive, or minimum-risk level, is non-residential and falls under the jurisdiction of Probation & Community Intervention rather than Residential Services.

In Florida, a youth may be committed by a judge (also known as adjudicated) to a residential program for the violation of a law.  This is not the same as a conviction [1] or imprisonment.  The Florida juvenile justice system is designed to rehabilitate offenders through supervision, counseling and treatment.  A youth’s commitment is for an indeterminate period of time, which may include periods of temporary release. [2]  

[1]  “an adjudication of delinquency . . . shall not be deemed a conviction.”  § 985.35(6), Fla. Stat. (2011).
[2]  J.I.S. v. State, 930 So.2d 587 (Fla. 2006)


Residential Facilities

In Florida, all residential commitment programs are operated by private providers under contract with the Department. Each program is monitored regularly and evaluated through the Department’s Bureau of Quality Improvement.  The Department’s Inspector General investigates reported incidents at programs that involve staff or youths.  

An incident allegation may be reported by calling 1-800-355-2280.  Report allegations of abuse by calling the Florida Abuse Hotline at 1-800-96-ABUSE (1-800-962-2873).

Information for each residential commitment facility is available by region, facility name, city, circuit, gender served, risk level, and provider.  Each facility's information window includes a photograph of the facility, the program’s contact information, a program description of services, and a map and directions to the facility location.


Services

Unlike the adult correctional system, each youth in a residential commitment program must receive educational and vocational services.  A juvenile is committed to a residential program for an indeterminate length of time even though each program has an average length of stay.  As one of the requirements for release, each youth must complete an individually-designed treatment plan based upon his or her rehabilitative needs.

The Department provides behavioral health, mental health, substance abuse and sex offender treatment services to committed youths identified as needing these specialized services.  Research indicates that approximately 66 percent of male juvenile delinquents and 75 percent of female juvenile delinquents have at least one psychiatric disorder (Archives of General Psychiatry. 2002; 59:1133-1143.).  Placing youths into specialized needs programs protects the public and holds youths accountable for their actions while teaching them the skills and behaviors they need to avoid further delinquent acts.

Juvenile residential facilities range from wilderness camps to halfway houses, from youth development centers to sex-offender and substance-abuse treatment programs, and from vocational education and behavior modification programs to maximum-security and behavioral correctional facilities.  Currently, Florida has a budgeted operating capacity of approximately 3,300 residential commitment beds with approximately two-thirds of those beds dedicated to providing treatment to address specialized needs.  For the past two years, the bed utilization rate has averaged about 90 percent.

In FY 2010-11, a total of 8,443 youths received treatment services through the Department’sOffice of Residential Services.  Of those, 5,696 youths received substance abuse treatment services through the Department’s general revenue funds and through Medicaid funds for Behavioral Health Overlay Services (BHOS).  Statewide, delinquency referrals in FY 2010-11 were reduced by 10 percent from the previous fiscal year.  During FY 2009-10, judges committed 5,476 individual juveniles to residential commitment facilities, which was 33 percent less from than FY 2005-06 (8,205 commitments).