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Model Programs Guide Literature Review: Juvenile Residential Programs

NCJ Number
Date Published
March 2019
25 pages

Based on a literature review, this paper describes the features of out-of-home juvenile residential programs for those adjudicated delinquent and reports on the number of youth in such placement, types of residential placement and their differences, and evidence of their effectiveness based on evaluation research.


Residential programs occur in out-of-home facilities where youth live under various types and levels of restrictive control and programming. The Survey of Youth in Residential Placement conducted by the U.S. Justice Department's Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention classifies residential programs into five general categories: detention, corrections, camp, community-based, and residential treatment. Currently, there is no standard definition of residential treatment programs, and specific types of residential programs may be known by a variety of names. This has presented a number of challenges, including problems in the oversight of these programs, such as the appropriate qualifications and training of management and staff personnel. The most recent survey reported more than 7,000 youths in custody, with 32 percent in a correctional placement, 26 percent in detention, 18 percent in a community-based placement, 14 percent in residential treatment, and 10 percent in a camp. Residential facilities vary in program components, such as goals, security features, the physical environment, facility size, length of stay, treatment services, and targeted population. Evaluation research on residential programs showed the following components to have the most positive effects on recidivism: behavioral programs, community residential programs, and multiple service programs. Mixed but generally positive effects were found for individual counseling, guided group counseling, and group counseling. Employment and drug abstinence programs showed weak or no effects. Highly structured therapeutic communities consistently showed weak or no effects on recidivism. Recommendations for evaluation research design are offered. 12 references

Date Published: March 1, 2019