Private Organization Accreditation

Sweetser, a Maine non-profit agency operating since 1828, provides comprehensive mental and behavioral health and substance abuse treatment services. Statewide, it serves around 15,000 consumers a year, including children, adults, and families in outpatient, office-based, and residential settings.


Bonnie Bagley

Volunteer Roles: Evaluator; Lead Evaluator; Peer Reviewer; Team Leader

I have found that being a COA Volunteer builds my professional skills and experience in ways that more traditional workshops do not. The opportunity to learn about best practices through the COA standards and then see how agencies implement them is truly a growth experience.
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Juvenile Justice Residential Services promote public safety by providing youth with a supportive, structured setting that helps them address their needs and develop the attitudes and skills needed to make responsible choices, avoid negative behaviors, and become productive, connected, and law-abiding citizens.

PA-JJR 15: Secure Residential Services

The agency maintains a safe environment for youth in secure residential programs.

Note: Definitions of a secure juvenile justice residential program vary by state and organization, and may include programs that lock youth in their rooms or programs that use perimeter security, such as a fence. All programs defined as secure are expected to complete JJR 15.01, though some secure programs may be exempt from JJR 15.02 and JJR 15.03 if the program does not lock youth in rooms.

NA The agency does not provide secure juvenile justice residential services.

Table of Evidence

Self-Study Evidence On-Site Evidence On-Site Activities
    • Procedures for ensuring safety when youth are locked in their rooms
    • When youth are locked in their rooms for routine purposes, provide a description of why this is necessary and how the agency maintains a positive service culture
No On-Site Evidence
    • Interview:
      1. Program director
      2. Relevant personnel
      3. Youth served
    • Review case records
    • Observe site

  • PA-JJR 15.01

    The agency ensures the placement of youth in the secure residential facility is necessary according to their risks and needs, and advocates for a less restrictive placement when appropriate.

  • FP
    PA-JJR 15.02

    Agencies that lock youth in their rooms for routine purposes:

    1. utilize this practice to maintain safety, order, and security, rather than for purposes of discipline, compliance, or convenience;
    2. ensure that using this practice does not detract from the agency’s ability to create a culture that promotes respect, healing, and positive behavior; and
    3. do not lock youth in their rooms for excessively long time periods.

    Interpretation: As referenced in the Note to PA-BSM, some agencies may lock youth in their rooms for routine purposes to maintain safety, security, and order. Although this practice does restrict freedom of movement, it differs from the types of restrictive interventions addressed in PA-BSM insofar as it is utilized on a routine, ongoing basis, rather than in response to a specific incident. It may be appropriate to lock youth in their rooms during sleep, or for other defined, short periods of time; however, because the practice is restrictive in nature, youth should not be locked in their rooms for excessively long periods, and should spend most of their waking hours engaged in meaningful and developmentally-appropriate activities, as referenced in PA-JJR 13.03.

    NA The agency does not lock youth in their rooms for routine purposes, for example, during sleep periods.

  • FP
    PA-JJR 15.03

    To ensure youth safety in both emergency and non-emergency situations, agencies that lock youth in their rooms for routine purposes:

    1. monitor youth while they are locked in their rooms;
    2. ensure that rooms are free from safety risks and hazards;
    3. provide access to food, water, and bathroom facilities, as needed;
    4. establish safety protocols and procedures that include plans for the immediate release of youth from locked areas in case of emergency; and
    5. train personnel and youth on emergency evacuation procedures.

    Interpretation: Youth should be monitored at least every 15 minutes. If the agency uses a video camera to monitor youth, it should demonstrate that personnel are able to respond immediately if necessary. When youth are at risk for suicide or self-harm, monitoring should be face-to-face and continual.

    Interpretation: As referenced in PA-ASE 3, the agency should conform to all applicable safety codes, including fire codes.

    NA The agency does not lock youth in their rooms for routine purposes, for example, during sleep periods.

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