Standards for public agencies

2020 Edition

Juvenile Justice Residential Services (PA-JJR) 5: Family Connections and Involvement

The youth, family, and agency work together to maintain an optimal level of family involvement during residential care, and develop positive connections to support youth after release.


COA recognizes that involving families can be difficult, especially if youth are placed outside of their communities and far from their families. However, agencies should still strive to involve families to the extent possible, unless family contact is contraindicated. If family contact is contraindicated and the youth resides with someone other than a family member, it may be appropriate to involve that person instead.
2020 Edition




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.
Full Implementation, Outstanding Performance
A rating of (1) indicates that the agency's practices fully meet the standard and reflect a high level of capacity.  
  • All elements or requirements outlined in the standard are evident in practice, with rare or no exceptions: exceptions do not impact service quality or agency performance. 
Substantial Implementation, Good Performance
A rating of (2) indicates that an agency's infrastructure and practices are basically sound but there is room for improvement.
  • The majority of the standards requirements have been met and the basic framework required by the standard has been implemented. 
  • Minor inconsistencies and not yet fully developed practices are noted; however, these do not significantly impact service quality or agency performance.

Partial Implementation, Concerning Performance
A rating of (3) indicates that the agency's observed infrastructure and/or practices require significant improvement.  

  • The agency has not implemented the basic framework of the standard but instead has in place only part of this framework.  
  • Omissions or exceptions to the practices outlined in the standard occur regularly, or practices are implemented in a cursory or haphazard manner.  
  • Service quality or agency functioning may be compromised.  
  • Capacity is at a basic level.
Unsatisfactory Implementation or Performance
A rating of (4) indicates that implementation of the standard is minimal or there is no evidence of implementation at all.  
  • The agency’s observed service delivery infrastructure and practices are weak or non-existent; or show signs of neglect, stagnation, or deterioration.
Self-Study EvidenceOn-Site EvidenceOn-Site Activities
  • Procedures for involving and serving youths' families
  • Resource and referral list
  • Interviews may include:
    1. Program director
    2. Relevant personnel
    3. Youth served and their families
  • Review case records


PA-JJR 5.01

Youth and their family members are informed of the agency's policies and procedures regarding visits and phone calls, and encouraged to maintain regular contact.


PA-JJR 5.02

Families are encouraged to participate in services for youth, to the extent possible and appropriate.
NA The agency provides only detention services.


PA-JJR 5.03

To strengthen the family’s ability to support and supervise youth, the agency helps family members:
  1. meet any unmet service needs;
  2. maintain and strengthen family relationships;
  3. prevent, manage, and resolve family conflicts;
  4. identify strengths that can help them meet future challenges; and
  5. prepare for the youth’s return to the family, when appropriate.
NA The agency provides only detention services.
Examples: The agency may help the family by, for example, providing family counseling, or linking family members with needed resources. Although family members may receive services at the facility, it may also be appropriate to provide or arrange for the delivery of services in the family’s community, especially when the family lives far from the facility. Some of this work may be done by an aftercare case manager, in the context of planning for reentry.


PA-JJR 5.04

The agency minimizes barriers to family involvement by:
  1. including family members in scheduling decisions;
  2. allowing participation through teleconferencing;
  3. assisting with transportation, accommodations, and childcare, as needed and to the extent possible;
  4. helping personnel develop and maintain positive relationships with family members; and
  5. providing an environment conducive to family visits and activities.
Examples: Personnel can develop positive relationships with family members and encourage their involvement by demonstrating: 
  1. sensitivity to the willingness of the family to be engaged;
  2. respect for family members’ autonomy and confidentiality;
  3. flexibility;
  4. persistence; and
  5. a non-threatening manner.