Standards for public agencies

2020 Edition

Juvenile Justice Residential Services (PA-JJR) 8: Mental Health Services

Youth with mental health conditions receive the appropriate level and intensity of treatment needed to address problems and promote rehabilitation.
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 governing the provision of mental health services
No On-Site Evidence
  • Interviews may include:
    1. Program director
    2. Relevant personnel
    3. Youth served and their families
  • Verify employment of qualified mental health professional either directly or via contract
  • Review case records

Fundamental Practice

PA-JJR 8.01

A mental health assessment is conducted within 14 days of admission, and youth with mental health conditions receive diagnoses based on standardized diagnostic tools.


Some agencies may conduct systematic service need screenings to determine when youth are in need of more in-depth assessments. When this is the case these service need screenings should occur within 7-14 days, and further evaluation should be conducted if necessary.
NA The agency provides only detention services.


PA-JJR 8.02

Interventions are appropriate to youths’ needs, and based on evidence or clinical practice guidelines, where they exist.
NA The agency provides only detention services.

Fundamental Practice

PA-JJR 8.03

Treatment services are provided by qualified mental health professionals.


If other personnel provide some aspects of service, they must be trained and supervised by qualified mental health professionals.
NA The agencies provides only detention services.

Fundamental Practice

PA-JJR 8.04

When youth receive medications for emotional or behavioral conditions, medication use is:
  1. consistent with the youth’s assessed needs and service plan;
  2. authorized and managed by a board-eligible psychiatrist or another qualified health practitioner; and
  3. monitored for efficacy and side effects.


It is permissible under the standard to use a consulting psychiatrist or a community mental health center for psychiatric consultation, provided that the agency has a formal agreement.

Fundamental Practice

PA-JJR 8.05

In case of emergency, youth have access to mental health services 24 hours a day.


It is permissible to use a local mental health facility for emergency services, provided the agency has a written agreement with the facility.


PA-JJR 8.06

When youth have experienced trauma, the agency provides specialized services and trauma-informed care.

Fundamental Practice

PA-JJR 8.07

To promote the safety of youth at risk of suicide, personnel:
  1. recognize when youth are thinking about suicide;
  2. monitor suicidal youth at a frequency consistent with level of risk;
  3. respond promptly and appropriately to youth who attempt suicide; and
  4. continually supervise youth who attempt suicide until they are assessed by qualified medical and mental health personnel.


PA-JJR 8.08

Youth diagnosed as having co-occurring mental health and substance use conditions receive integrated treatment either directly or through active involvement with a cooperating service provider.
NA The agency provides only detention services.