In-Between Space Helps Youth Stay Out of Isolation

Staff at the STEPS program teach youth skills so that they can do better next time.

The STEPS program space at MacLaren Youth Correctional Facility — an in-between space for youth who have escalated and need to go to another area of campus to calm down — launched six months ago and is going strong.

The program is one of the ways MacLaren is working to keep youth out of isolation while still providing them and their unit staff with support when needed.

OYA facilities may not use isolation for punishing youth, although staff still may send youth to isolation if they are being violent or there is a threat of violence.

In other cases, where a youth is struggling with strong emotions or having conflicts with others, and they need time and space to calm down, staff can potentially send them to the STEPS program space instead.

There, youth take time to re-regulate their emotions, and then work one-on-one with skills development coordinators (SDCs) to talk about what happened and come up with ideas and a plan for how to make things go better next time. Other youth also work at the program as mentors, giving an important youth perspective to those who respond better to advice from peers.

STEPS stands for Stop, Think, Explore, Plan, Share. It’s a program that is currently being used at MacLaren, but OYA plans to expand its use to the other facilities. So far, feedback from MacLaren youth has been mostly positive, the SDCs say.

The program recently was highlighted in an article in Salem Reporter.

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