DJJ COVID-19 Q&A
The Georgia Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) continues to monitor and respond to the COVID-19 pandemic concerns. This document provides responses to frequently asked questions of DJJ by the general public and agency staff.
Question: Is my child safe from the virus?
Answer: According to the Georgia Department of Public Health, children ages 0-17 account for only 1% of COVID-19 cases in Georgia and no deaths. The medical team at DJJ is doing its best to protect our youth from this pandemic. If you have questions regarding the specific medical care of your child, please contact the facility where your child is located.
Question: How is DJJ Protecting my child from COVID-19?
Answer: During admission into a facility, each youth receives a medical screening. This screening includes a series of questions to determine the youth’s history of possible exposure to the virus and an overall health assessment for signs of a fever. If the youth has COVID-19 symptoms and/or have been exposed to someone with a positive COVID-19 test, they are placed in medical isolation for 14 days as recommended by the CDC. Youth will be provided with masks to wear during this period. All youth have access to increased hygiene products, including soap and hand-sanitizers.
Youth in medical isolation will be checked by medical staff at least twice a day to monitor the symptoms. If any COVID-19-like symptoms are present, medical staff will monitor and treat youth appropriately based on the community standard of care. All facilities have access to local emergency and hospital services if needed.
Question: What happens during medical isolation?
Answer: During the medical isolation period, all DJJ services continue for the youth while in their room. These services include meals, education, counseling, behavioral and medical services, among others. DJJ offers full health services to all youth in the facility, including sick calls, physical and dental screening examinations, chronic care clinics, medications, and behavioral health services. Medical staff will monitor all youth in the facility for the development of COVID-19-like symptoms. Education on COVID-19 symptoms is also provided to youth as well as information on anxiety produced by the pandemic.
Question: Does the medical clinic provide care and diagnosis for the employees and visitors?
Answer: No. The Medical Services team only provides care and treatment for the youth in custody. Employees and visitors are encouraged to seek treatment/diagnosis from physicians or public health services.
Question: Are staff entering the facility screened?
Answer: All facility staff are mandatorily screened for symptoms upon entry and receive a temperature check. If an employee fails the entry screening, they will not be allowed to enter the facility to avoid potentially exposing youth or other staff to the virus.
Question: Are the facilities being sanitized?
Answer: All facilities are on an enhanced sanitation schedule. Surfaces are wiped down regularly. For any facility where a positive case has been confirmed, it is sterilized on a facility level.
BEHAVIOR HEALTH SERVICES
Question: Are the youth still receiving behavioral health services?
Answer: Yes, behavioral health providers are reporting to their assigned facilities. Also, behavioral health regional personnel, as well as OBHS leadership, remain in close contact with other divisions at all levels. Services are being adapted with the support of other divisions to leverage technology to enhance youth connection to their loved ones and caregivers.
Question: During the COVID-19 outbreak, will I be able to visit my child at a secure facility?
Answer: As part of DJJ’s COVID-19 prevention efforts, visitation at all secure facilities statewide are suspended for volunteers, parents and guardians, and other visitors or until further notice. Suspension of visitation may be extended based on expert pandemic recommendations.
Question: What are my options to see my child since I am not allowed to enter the secure facility?
Answer: DJJ has instituted the use of smart tablets in all 26 secure facilities so families can communicate with their child using video chat apps such as FaceTime and Skype. Additional minutes have also been added to the youths’ telephone accounts. Also, the Juvenile Detention Counselors are facilitating telephone calls in addition to the video chats.
Question: Are transports still being completed for youth in secure facilities?
Answer: Yes, transports are still being completed by the Office of Transportation for all court-ordered movements, Interstate Compact travel, and medical appointments that are deemed critical. Staff are wearing masks to minimize exposure risks by any potentially asymptomatic carriers. Youth may also be required to wear masks. The surfaces of the vans are also wiped down with disinfectants.
Question: What meals are food service providing and how are they ensuring safety and sanitation during COVID-19?
Answer: Foodservice continues to provide uninterrupted meal service to youth for all meals and snacks as well as offering free meals to all essential onsite staff during their shift during this difficult time. If situations warrant, a low-labor menu will be provided to ensure youth and staff continue to receive hot meals. In addition, guidance will be provided to facilities in the case that the non-food service team members must prepare and serve meals.
To ensure the safety and sanitation of meals and the dining area, food service staff cleans and sanitizes all food contact and dining surfaces, equipment, tools, and utensils, as well as continuing the practice of frequent handwashing.
OFFICE OF CHAPLAINCY SERVICES
Question: Are youth and staff being provided with pastoral care and spiritual guidance at this time?
Answer: Yes. The Office of Chaplaincy Service has three regional Chaplains and Directors offering pastoral care and spiritual guidance for youth as well as staff during COVID-19. Presently, communication is being accomplished through telephone consultation.
Question: Is my child required to complete work assignments during the school closure?
Answer: Yes. DJJ teachers have created printed assignments for students in each subject area. These assignments are being graded and those grades will be entered into DJJ’s student information system (Infinite Campus).
Question: If my child is taking GED classes, will he/she be able to complete the GED work and take the final examination before the end of the school year?
Answer: DJJ GED teachers have created printed assignments for our GED students to complete during the closure. These assignments will be graded and recorded. The Technical College System of Georgia provides GED testing. Currently, this testing has been suspended due to facility visitor restrictions but will resume once visitors are allowed back into the facilities.
Question: Will my child have to prepare and take the Georgia Milestones End of Grade or End of Course tests?
Answer: The Georgia Department of Education (GADOE) has suspended Georgia Milestones testing for this year. GADOE will provide all school systems with guidance on calculating final grades for courses that require a Milestones test.
Question: If my child is a senior and scheduled to graduate in May, will he/she still be able to graduate?
Answer: Yes. DJJ does not foresee any circumstance that will prevent seniors from graduating on time. The work being completed now will be graded with Georgia Milestones testing not being required. Teachers and school counselors will work with each student to ensure graduation requirements are being met. Though the diplomas and certificates will be distributed in May, the May graduates will also have the opportunity to participate in the December graduation ceremony so that they can experience walking across the stage.
Question: Will my child be able to take the SAT or ACT?
Answer: Spring SAT and ACT testing have been canceled. The University System of Georgia will not require SAT or ACT scores for Fall Semester 2020 admissions.
Question: What is the status of youth court hearings?
Answer: Please contact the local court clerk’s office regarding court hearings.
Question: When will my child have to report to intake?
Answer: DJJ will notify the child and parent once a date for intake has been established.
Question: How will probation officers address youth non-compliance?
Answer: Staff will continue to provide sanctions and interventions to address youth non-compliance. If conditions are violated, the probation officer will keep communications open so that appropriate measures can be taken if violations are observed, and staff are mindful of COVID-19 implications
Question: Are face to face meetings needed with probation officers?
Answer: Your child’s safety is of the utmost importance. Probation officers will maintain contact with your child through other technologies. Face to face visits will not be necessary to ensure compliance unless specified.
Question: Are groups/counseling sessions still required during this time?
Answer: Office visits are suspended until further notice. Information will be provided by group leaders once available.
Question: Are services still being rendered both in placement and in the community?
Answer: Probation officers are contacting all services providers to ensure that youth are still receiving services either through face to face visits or telephone calls or video conferencing.
Question: What measures are being taken to maintain youth safety in placements?
Answer: Youth have been taught proper sanitizing methods through washing hands and keeping safe distancing from others.
Question: How will the virus impact YDC placement for awaiting youth?
Answer: Youth placement and transportation has been limited to ensure the safety of the youth and limit the spread of the virus. However, youth services are still being provided at all locations and possible admissions are being evaluated.
Question: How do I make sure my child is drug screened?
Answer: Parents can contact providers directly requesting drug screens or purchase drug screens themselves and personally administer those screens.
Question: While awaiting psychological assessments, can my child still be released from the RYDC?
Answer: DJJ service providers are using alternative methods to help complete the psychological assessments as quickly as possible. In the interim, the release of youth will be at the discretion of the court.
Question: How can monthly restitution/fee payments for youth be made?
Answer: DJJ is working with local courts to extend time limits for all required payments.