Juvenile Justice Info on COVID-19

Actions taken to keep the public, staff and juveniles safe

The Division of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention is committed to doing everything possible to help ensure the health, safety and security of DPS employees, those housed within our system and ultimately the general public. 

Through the historic COVID-19 pandemic, JJDP leadership continuously monitored the evolving situation and took additional safety steps as warranted to help preempt and reduce the opportunity for the virus to spread. Based on recommendations from Gov. Roy Cooper, as well as information from the Governor’s Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Task Force and the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services, various operational changes were instituted to help protect the safety of our staff, and the juveniles and families we serve.

Current operations continue to align with CDC recommendations, including:

  • Upon initial admission to a facility, unvaccinated youth will quarantine for a minimum of seven days with a PCR test on day 5 or later. Without a PCR test, quarantine length will be 10 days. Upon initial admission to a facility, juveniles with proof of full vaccination will submit to a PCR test and be placed on temporary quarantine until a test result is received. If the juvenile refuses to be tested, they will be placed on the same quarantine schedule as unvaccinated youth.
  • Screening all juveniles being admitted to a juvenile facility for potential coronavirus symptoms. Anyone with symptoms will be quarantined while the source of their medical issues are investigated. Facility directors, teachers and clinicians work to ensure these youth have access to enrichment and entertainment activities.

Prior operational changes (first implemented March 16, 2020) included:

  • Suspending visitation and volunteer activities at all juvenile justice facilities, until conditions are deemed safe. All non-essential volunteers, contractors and vendors are prohibited from entry. Contractors/staff undergo screening procedures prior to entry.
  • Requiring that all staff, visitors and contractors entering a state-operated juvenile detention center or youth development center wear a mask at all times.
  • Requiring that all persons entering a Juvenile Justice worksite submit to temperature and symptom screening.
  • Screening all juveniles prior to transportation. If a juvenile is feverish or has a respiratory illness, the juvenile shall not be transported.
  • Hiring additional health care workers to oversee preparations and implementation of COVID-19 response plans.
  • Off-campus community medical appointments are limited to urgent or emergent juvenile health issues. The risk of potential exposure will be evaluated by health care staff on a case-by-case basis.
  • Posting informational literature in all facilities to stress the washing of hands and other preventive measures juveniles, staff and visitors can take to reduce the spread of diseases.
  • Decreasing the number of youth in detention through the utilization of electronic monitoring.*
  • Suspending home visits for youth committed to a youth development center and deferring the requirement that a juvenile complete all pre‐release home visits before being release from a youth development center.
  • Increasing the number of phone calls permitted between juveniles and their families.*
  • Limiting recreational services to non-contact activities.
  • Increasing the use of telehealth services, to include the provision of mental health services and assessments at detention centers in addition to youth development centers.*
  • Handling necessary court hearings via videoconference.*
  • Conducting service planning and post release supervision planning meetings via telephone/videoconferencing for external stakeholders, including court counselors and the juvenile’s family.
  • Conducting non-essential meetings via videoconference.*
  • In a situation where a juvenile must be transferred between detention centers, the Director of Facility Operations shall be consulted for authorization and the juvenile shall be transferred with a mask and a discharge COVID-19 Supplement document. The juvenile shall complete their remaining quarantine time at the receiving center.
  • Providing a health care summary and COVID-19 fact sheet upon the release of a juvenile from a detention center or youth development center. Juveniles and their families are instructed to contact the center if symptoms develop within 14 days after release.

*This initiative continues and/or has been incorporated into Division policy as a result of positive experiences during the pandemic. Its inclusion on this list should merely indicate that it is no longer attributable to the pandemic, not that the Division has suspended efforts in this area.

The Juvenile Justice Section regularly focuses on using alternatives to detention (such as electronic monitoring, home confinement, community-based programs, etc.) when appropriate for juveniles with nonviolent complaints who are awaiting adjudication, or trial, within juvenile court. In part due to this pandemic, those efforts have been increased to include:

  • Reviewing juvenile cases for those who might be appropriate for release, and bringing them to the attention of the detaining judges for approval of release to community-based services.
  • Seeking other alternatives to detention for juveniles who committed minor violations of their probation. For example, requesting the court to allow a juvenile to serve court-ordered detention time for such a violation following the coronavirus crisis.
  • Increasing the use of electronic monitoring and other alternatives to detention.
  • Requesting judges rescind, in appropriate cases, outstanding bench orders for secure custody on juveniles with complaints for non-violent offenses.

Additionally, during the pandemic, leadership assigned a team to review all juvenile cases eligible for release from youth development centers, and to work with community-based partners to ensure effective transitions. Prior to releasing any juvenile from a YDC, staff must ensure that the home and community environments are safe, supportive of the juvenile’s continued growth, and able to meet the juvenile’s needs in the areas of education and mental health treatment.

Aug. 8, 2022

  • The mandatory use of masks in facilities with current cases or in high-risk transmission areas is optional, except as required by current CDC guidance following a confirmed positive test. Masking continues to be strongly recommended in facilities located in high transmission areas.
  • The quarantine period of all new community intakes is reduced from 7-10 days to 2-3 days based on a negative COVID-19 test result within one business day of arrival at the detention facility. All incoming juveniles, regardless of vaccination status, will be placed on temporary quarantine status pending receipt of testing results. With a negative test result, the juvenile will be removed from quarantine status and placed in the general population.

May 10, 2022

  • All state Juvenile Justice facilities that meet the following criteria will transition to optional use of face masks:
    • Zero facility-based COVID-19 cases in more than 14 days, and
    • The county where the facility is located is identified with “low” COVID-19 community transmission levels. 
  • All facilities will maintain standard infection control strategies, such as recommended handwashing and cleaning and disinfection for standard prevention of infectious diseases, including COVID-19.
  • The quarantine period of all new community intakes is reduced from 7-10 days to 2-3 days based on a negative COVID-19 test result within 24 hours of arrival at the detention facility. All incoming juveniles, regardless of vaccination status, will be placed on temporary quarantine status pending receipt of testing results. With a negative test result, the juvenile will be removed from quarantine status and placed in the general population. 
  • Facility staff will continue to administer the COVID-19 symptom checklist and temperature checks for all volunteers, visitors and juveniles.  

Jan. 4, 2022

  • In-person family visitations are suspended until further notice at all facilities in order to protect Juvenile Justice staff and juveniles from further infection due to COVID-19. Staff will encourage virtual visitations where at all possible.
  • All Juvenile Justice contractual residential facilities will suspend in-person visitation through the month of January. Providers will conduct virtual visitations/meetings where possible. These facilities will also limit home visits for the month of January.

Dec. 22, 2021

  • Effective Dec. 22, upon admission and following an off-campus outing with parents/guardians or overnight home visit, unvaccinated juveniles will have a minimum of seven days of quarantine with a PCR test administered at Day 5 or later. Fully vaccinated juveniles are not required to quarantine unless they have COVID-19 symptoms or refuse a PCR test. No additional quarantine is required if the juvenile transfers to another facility or attends a staff-supervised off-campus outing (including court and medical appointments), if there is no verified exposure to COVID-19, the juvenile wears his/her mask at all times except when directed to remove it, and the juvenile remains asymptomatic.   

Dec. 8, 2021

  • Effective Dec. 8, Juvenile Justice resumed staff-supervised outings for eligible juveniles in youth development centers. These supervised off-campus outings are an important aspect of the treatment and rehabilitation plan for juveniles whose transition plan involves return to their family and home community.

July 1, 2021

  • Effective July 1, eligible youth will be permitted to attend off-campus social outings (no greater than 8 hours in duration).

June 1, 2021

  • Effective June 1, parents will be permitted to attend service planning team meetings in person. Masks are to be worn at all times and social distancing shall be used during the meeting. A virtual option for SPM meetings shall continue to be offered. Began implementing a plan to vaccinate consenting juveniles in secure custody facilities.
  • Effective June 1, volunteers will be permitted to resume their activities at facilities. Any volunteer entering a facility must wear a mask at all times.
  • The requirement to wear face masks remains in effect in all juvenile facilities. The requirement to wear face masks extends to all individuals in a facility at any time for any reason, vaccinated or unvaccinated.

April 23, 2021

  • Began implementing a plan to vaccinate consenting juveniles in secure custody facilities.

March 15, 2021

  • Resumed in-person visitation between parents/guardians and juveniles in our facilities. This decision was made because visitation is so important for the mental health and success of juveniles in our care, the rate of COVID-19 transmission has declined significantly in North Carolina, and vaccinations are available to all frontline essential employees. The resumption of visitation is coupled with screening procedures, requirements to maintain social distance, and encouragement to conduct visitation activities outdoors when feasible.  For more information, go to https://www.ncdps.gov/juvenile-justice/juvenile-facility-operations.

Feb. 15, 2021

  • The Juvenile Justice section distributed an additional 1,940 personal protective equipment (PPE) kits to state-operated facilities. These PPE kits provide staff with the gloves, gown, shoe covers, face shield, and masking needed to interact with COVID-positive youth while they are in isolation at a Juvenile Justice facility. Community Programs facilities, Court Services vehicles and transportation vehicles have also received these kits. To date, JJ has distributed approximately 4,600 PPE to facilities.

Jan. 7, 2021

  • In an effort to identify and contain the risk of transmission, additional COVID-19 testing has been implemented with medical provider guidance. Testing will allow for quarantine and medical isolation to support a targeted response to containment and management of risk for juveniles in congregate, residential Juvenile Justice settings. All testing will be directed by medical provider’s assessment of potential risk to the juvenile population. 
  • The decision based on CDC revised guidance for quarantine time has been rescinded during the current period of high community COVID-19 cases. Quarantine for juveniles upon entry to a residential juvenile setting has returned to 14 days until the statewide and county specific case rate decreases. 

Jan. 5, 2021

  • Juvenile Justice again suspended in-person visitation between parents/guardians and juveniles in facilities due to COVID-19. Visitation by legal counsel will still be permitted. Juvenile Justice originally suspended visitation due to COVID-19 on March 16, 2020. The section then resumed limited in-person visitation between parents/guardians and juveniles in our facilities on Oct. 1, 2020.

Dec. 9, 2020

  • Per updated CDC guidance issued Dec. 2, 2020, the time period for mandatory quarantine upon a juvenile’s admission to a Juvenile Justice facility is reduced from 14 days to 10 days. All cases will be evaluated independently and any orders by a medical provider to change the length of quarantine, including an extension back to 14 days, will be followed. Also, all juveniles who transfer to a YDC from a detention center will be placed in medical quarantine for up to 72 hours or until cleared by a medical provider to join the general population. 
  • Upon transfer to a youth development center from a detention center, juveniles shall be placed on 72 hours of medical quarantine. This time period may be adjusted by a medical provider following a clinical assessment and with consideration to the juvenile’s medical history.

Oct. 28, 2020

  • 8,225 personal protective equipment (PPE) kits have been assembled for juvenile secure custody facilities. The goal is to complete and distribute 10,000 PPE kits. These PPE kits are packaged to provide a staff member with the gloves, gown, shoe covers, face shield, and masking needed to interact with COVID-positive youth while they are in isolation at a Juvenile Justice facility. Community Programs facilities, Court Services vehicles and transportation vehicles will also receive these kits.

Sept. 18, 2020

  • Announced resumption on Oct. 1, 2020, of limited in-person visitation in juvenile justice facilities. Visitation, which was suspended on March 16 in efforts to stop the spread of COVID-19, will resume Oct. 1 under the following conditions:
    • Visits must be scheduled in advance, by appointment only.
    • Juveniles who are on isolation or quarantine, or who have exhibited any symptoms of COVID-19, will have their visit rescheduled.
    • All visitors will be medically screened with temperature checks, in addition to standard security procedures. Anyone with symptoms of COVID-19, or who has a fever of 100 degrees or more, or who has been exposed to someone who is COVID-positive, will be denied entry.
    • The visits will be non-contact only. Social distancing of at least six feet between juvenile and visitor will be enforced. Additionally, both juveniles and their visitor must wear facemasks for the duration of the visit.
    • If the facility grounds and weather conditions permit, visits may take place outdoors.|
    • Visitors should immediately inform the facility if they receive a diagnosis of COVID-19 or develop signs and symptoms of COVID-19 within 48 hours after a visit.

Sept. 3, 2020

  • Distributed five cloth masks for every juvenile and staff member.

July 2, 2020

  • Confirming by test results received this week that following a mass testing initiative, no juveniles (who agreed to undergo testing) housed in state-operated secure custody facilities were infected by the coronavirus at the time they were tested. In mid-June officials with the state Juvenile Justice section of the N.C. Department of Public Safety provided testing to all juveniles in secure custody in the four youth development centers and seven juvenile detention centers operated by the state. 

    Going forward during the coronavirus pandemic, all youths entering juvenile justice facilities will be tested for COVID-19 within 72 hours of their admission. If the juvenile and/or guardian refuses to allow testing, the juvenile must remain in quarantine for 14 days. Juveniles who are tested will stay in quarantine until testing results have been determined, and up to 14 days.

June 11, 2020

  • Began implementing a plan to provide COVID-19 testing for children housed currently in state secure custody facilities, and to offer testing to all juveniles entering these facilities within 72 hours of their entry going forward during the coronavirus pandemic. Updated guidance on June 9 from the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services recommended testing of all residents of congregant facilities. 

May 21, 2020

  • Confirming through COVID-19 testing that all 87 juveniles at Stonewall Jackson Youth Development Center, and one unit of four children at Chatham Youth Development Center, have not been infected by the coronavirus. COVID-19 testing of these juveniles earlier this week, and happening today with 19 juveniles at Edgecombe Youth Development Center, is occurring after a staff member at each facility self-reported that they tested positive for the coronavirus.

May 15, 2020 

April 6, 2020

  • Issuing a memo to Juvenile Community Programs program providers, county officials and Juvenile Crime Prevention Councils on "Continuity of Operations and Guidelines" during pandemic response. This memo included Guidance to Programs during the COVID-19 State of Emergency; Guidance to Counties and Juvenile Crime Prevention Councils (JCPCs)during the COVID-19 State of Emergency; and a Resource List for Agencies.

April 3, 2020

  • Instituted use of distance learning in JJ facilities (rescinded May 29) As a note, all classroom learning must be socially distanced.

April 1, 2020

  • Suspended airport surveillance connected to juveniles flying between jurisdictions.

March 25, 2020

  • Suspended drug and alcohol screenings.

March 13, 2020

  • Suspended home visits and intake office visits by juvenile court counselors; instead, began relying on videoconferencing (rescinded June 1).
  • Implemented increased cleaning regimens across all JJ worksites.
  • Suspended all training not essential to maintain certification, and suspended all classroom-based in-service training.
  • Established a system for weekly inventory across JJ to monitor available PPE and cleaning supplies and to permit all JJ work locations and Community Programs to make requests. Established delivery routes for weekly supply runs to all JJ work locations and Community Program locations.

NC Juvenile Facilities - Juvenile COVID-19 Testing Data

Facility Cumulative Tests Performed Positive Tests Presumed Recovered 
Per CDC/DHHS guidelines
Alexander JDC 660 18  
Cabarrus-Kirk JDC 742 11
Cumberland JDC 692 6
Dillon JDC 682 6
Dobbs/Lenoir JDC 115 2
New Hanover JDC 609 4
Pitt JDC 821 7
Wake JDC 631 15
Chatham YDC 319 18
Edgecombe YDC 346 28
Lenoir YDC 404 16
Cabarrus YDC 360 51
McWhorter (Cabarrus Campus) 16 6  
TOTAL 6,397 188 178

Last updated: Sept. 8, 2022

Data may not include every juvenile at facility, since juveniles may refuse testing. When this occurs, Juvenile Justice must take appropriate precautions for facility, by presuming that juvenile could potentially be infected with COVID-19 and institute appropriate quarantine period for juvenile.  

*JDC=Juvenile Detention Center

*YDC=Youth Development Center