Once a youth is committed or probated to the Kentucky Department of Juvenile Justice (KY DJJ), a wide range of programs may be accessed. The youth may be placed in his/her own home with special conditions; or, if necessary for best meeting the youth’s needs or protecting the community, the youth may be placed out of his/her own home. KY DJJ operates and contracts for the services of a variety of programs to both meet the needs of delinquent youth and to protect the public. A team of trained professionals including the youth’s Juvenile Service Worker (JSW), the Juvenile Services Specialist (JSS), and the KY DJJ Classification Branch Manager makes decisions regarding the placement of KY DJJ youth. The KY DJJ seeks to serve youth in the least restrictive, appropriate placement possible.

Placement Process

Upon being committed to KY DJJ, each youth is assigned to a Juvenile Services Worker (JSW). This worker serves as the youth’s case manager. As part of the case management responsibilities, the JSW schedules a case planning conference or individual treatment planning (ITP) conference within 30 days of the date the youth enters an out-of-home placement, including placement with a relative other than the youth’s parent or guardian.

The least restrictive form of placement for committed or probated youth is supervised community placement (placement with the youth’s own relatives)--this may include placement with the parent or guardian with whom the youth was previously residing. In recommending placement of a youth with a relative, the desires of the natural parents are generally considered. The appropriateness of the placement is evaluated by JSW, including a criminal records check via the Kentucky State Police.

Community Supervision

Supervised community placement may be used as an alternative to residential placement or as a "step down" for youth who are returning home following an out-of-home placement. Every committed youth who resides in the community has conditions of placement. If a youth violates his/her placement conditions, the JSW may request a revocation hearing.

A youth’s conditions of supervised community placement may require him/her to attend a day treatment center. These programs provide educational alternatives for youth between the ages of 12 and 17 whose behavior precludes participation in a regular school setting and who have usually been referred by the court or school system. These programs are the least restrictive and most cost-effective placement alternative to institutional care. Day treatment centers are organized around a normal classroom schedule, with highly individualized instruction. They emphasize treatment through individual, group, and family counseling. KY DJJ operates six day treatment centers and contracts for the operation of 20 additional programs. On the average, these programs each serve approximately 30 youth. Some day treatment centers keep youth until 8:00 p.m., thereby reducing the youth’s number of unsupervised hours.

Additional services that may be offered or required as a part of the youth’s conditions of supervised community placement include health services, mental health services, intensive family preservation services, electronic monitoring, day reporting centers, Impact Plus services, parent training, and educational/vocational planning.

Juvenile Intensive Supervision Team (JIST)

Youth whose needs may be best met in the community but who require more intensive supervision may come under the care of a Juvenile Intensive Supervision Team (JIST). The JIST program falls under placement levels II and III, depending on the youth’s identified treatment needs. The JIST program is commonly used as a form of aftercare—a "step down" from residential treatment.

Therapeutic Foster Care (TFC)

For committed youth who do not present a significant risk to the public but need to be removed from their own homes, KY DJJ contracts with private providers for foster care services—traditional and therapeutic. Traditional and therapeutic foster care both offer a home-like environment and daily routine but provide an increased monitoring of daily activities. Youth in therapeutic foster care (TFC) are assigned caseworkers by the private provider. Caseworkers are on-call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to assist with problems that may occur. Youth placed in TFC receive a full range of treatment services including individual and group counseling, socialization groups, recreational and educational programs, and any other community resources that can be readily accessed. TFC is useful for youth who are typically difficult to place, including younger children, emotionally disturbed youth, mentally handicapped youth, and girls.

Therapeutic foster care (TFC) serves as a critical part of the continuum for youth who are ready to "step down" from residential care but cannot return home. Prior to TFC, these youth were placed in long-term residential private childcare (PCC) settings. TFC may also be used to transition youth back into their own homes.

Private Youth Programs

Private childcare (PCC) providers offer a wide range of residential programs for specialized populations of committed youth including younger children, sex offenders, girls, mentally handicapped youth, and youth with mental health disorders. These programs typically serve more non-serious public offenders and give KY DJJ more flexibility in placing youth in programs well suited to their needs. Youth in PCC placements are monitored 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

KY DJJ contracts with appropriate psychiatric hospitals/facilities to better meet the needs of youth who have been diagnosed as mentally ill or who display symptoms of mental illness.


To plan for effective delinquency prevention and early intervention, the family, school and community as a whole must be involved in addressing the problems.

DJJ's key principles for preventing and reducing juvenile delinquency are:

  • To strengthen families
  • To support core social institutions
  • To promote prevention strategies and programs
  • To intervene immediately and effectively when delinquent behavior occurs
  • To identify and control the small percentages of serious, violent and chronic juvenile offenders

Kentucky's Delinquency Prevention and Community Partnership Initiative began in 1998 at such time the General Assembly authorized the department to establish local juvenile delinquency prevention councils for the purpose of promoting delinquency prevention and collaboration of community efforts.

Aftercare Services

In an effort to reduce recidivism, KY DJJ initiated the Intensive Aftercare Program (IAP) to provide intensive services to youth identified as being at the highest risk of re-offending upon return to the community.

Upon being identified as in need of intensive aftercare (IA) services, a youth is placed in one of KY DJJ's three IAP-designated residential treatment programs. A team, consisting of an IA worker (who is assigned to the community), an aftercare liaison (who is assigned to the residential treatment facility), and residential facility treatment staff, works to make the youth's transition from residential placement to the community as successful as possible by preparing a detailed aftercare plan tailored to meet the youth's unique needs.

While the youth is in residential placement, his/her IA worker and the facility's aftercare liaison prepare for the youth's reentry in the community by scheduling counseling appointments, meeting with the youth's family, exploring job opportunities and locating possible mentors.

Upon leaving the IAP-designated residential treatment facility, the youth moves to a less-structured step-down program such as foster care, a group home or a day treatment program. Once the youth returns to the community, he/she is transitioned through a community phase system that is coordinated by the IA worker and includes intensive contacts, services and supervision.

Intensive Supervision

In 1998, the Department of Juvenile Justice (KY DJJ) began teaming up with local law enforcement agencies to provide intensive surveillance of delinquency youth to facilitate rehabilitation, reduce recidivism rates and safeguard the community. This police-juvenile justice partnership, called the Juvenile Intensive Supervision Team (JIST) program, allows juvenile justice community workers to collaborate with local law enforcement officers in supervising youth probated or committed to KY DJJ by the court.

Kentucky's JIST program, which is based on Boston, Massachusetts' "Operation Night Light" initiative, was created to allow community-based placement for:

  • Committed youth who no longer require the level of supervision and care provided by the state's juvenile facilities but need more intensive supervision than generally provided by supervised community placement, and/or
  • Probated youth considered to be at high risk of out-of-home placement.

Each JIST consists of one law enforcement officer and one KY DJJ community worker. Teams make regular home, school and work visits to enforce youths' conditions of probation or supervised community placement. Contacts allow teams to:

  • Establish whether or not the juvenile is in compliance with the curfew and other restrictions;
  • Reinforce the importance of strict observance of all conditions of probation/commitment; and
  • Inquire of family members present about the behavior of the juvenile, both at home and in the community.

JIST contacts strengthen the relationships between the police and KY DJJ, involve the parents in the child's probation/commitment and serve notice to other youth that the police and KY DJJ are serous about their mission.

JIST philosophy recognizes that the effectiveness of commitment and/or probation depends on strict enforcement as well as cooperation among agencies. The JIST partnership provides police officers information on which juveniles are probated/committed to KY DJJ and what conditions they are required to obey. This allows officers on patrol to act as additional eyes and ears for KY DJJ around the clock and encourages juveniles to take conditions of supervision much more sensibly.

Kentucky's JIST program was initiated in five communities in 1998. Since that time, the program has demonstrated incredible success. KY DJJ community workers report that upon initial implementation of the program in the five communities, violations of probation/placement conditions were common; however, as awareness of the program has grown, violations have sharply declined. The success of JIST has prompted KY DJJ to extend the program to new communities.

KY DJJ operates JIST programs in cooperation with law enforcement agencies in the following Kentucky communities:
Louisville, Shelbyville, Franklin County, Newport, Lexington, Paducah, Christian County, Bowling Green, Larue County, Hardin County, Henderson and Nelson County.​​