The Texas Juvenile Justice Department comprises many divisions, each of which is essential to the agency fulfilling its mission. From Human Resources to the Juvenile Justice Training Academy, the professionals at TJJD provide key leadership and management functions in the service of helping the youth entrusted to the agency. To learn more about these divisions or to get contact information, click on the links.
How TJJD Has Responded to the COVID-19 Pandemic
As an agency focused on public safety, the highest priority of the Texas Juvenile Justice Department is to protect our employees and the youth in our care. TJJD remains in daily contact with the Office of the Governor, the Texas Department of State Health Services, and the Texas Department of Emergency Management to remain fully informed and respond to events as the situation changes. In addition, the agency’s leadership team has been meeting daily, and throughout the day, to ensure services while maintaining safety. The 2,000 employees of TJJD are committed to doing their part to help Texas beat COVID-19.
Below are Frequently Asked Questions for parents, guardians, and caregivers for youth in the juvenile justice system as well as for the general public. If you would like to reach a TJJD employee for additional information, please visit the Contact Us page.
Is the public allowed to enter TJJD secure facilities?
At this time, the agency has enacted broad restrictions to limit access to our facilities. We have suspended in-person visitation, and we have contacted families to provide options such as virtual visitation or additional phone calls. Volunteers, with the exception of attorneys and individuals who lead religious services, are also not allowed inside our facilities at this time.
What are you doing to protect the staff and youth from contact to the virus?Our direct-care staff and any essential personnel have their temperature checked and a screening completed before entering the facility. In addition, we have added hand-washing stations both inside and outside the gates. Anyone who reports contact with a person with COVID-19 is managed according to CDC guidance.
For those staff who are not in a direct-care positions or other essential roles, TJJD has facilitated the broad use of telework by updating our virtual private network (VPN) and distributing devices to those individuals who need them to work from home.
Additionally, we understand the unique environments in which our youth live, so we are focused on steps such as regular hand-washing and maintaining appropriate social distance.
Has the agency changed its travel policy?
Yes, at this time, per the instructions of Governor Abbott, all non-essential travel has been canceled.
For those employees who had personal travel, we have established an internal email address to help answer their questions or determine risk based on their history and interactions.
How is the agency handling employees who have been sick?
We follow the guidance issued by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), including all updates, to determine when a staff member with the virus or with potential contact can return to work.
At this time, no TJJD employees have tested positive for COVID-19.
How is the agency handling youth who have been sick?
In addressing the potential cases of youth with COVID-19, any youth within our facility will be isolated if they have a fever, and supportive and medical care will be given based upon associated symptoms. Youth with either flu or COVID-19 will have rest as their primary modality for recovery. Given the seriousness of potential negative outcomes with transferring infected youths, a youth will not be transported between secure facilities, including contract care. The only time a youth will be transported is if hospitalization is believed to be necessary and the youth will be transported by EMS only in these cases.
At this time, TJJD has had no youth infected by COVID-19.
Has the Office of the Independent Ombudsman changed its procedures?
The Ombudsman has postponed in-person site visits at this time. The Ombudsman has reached out to the secure facilities and is working with case managers and youth rights specialists to set up schedules for youth to make regular contact with the Ombudsman for virtual visits.
The Ombudsman has also created a procedure for youth who need to speak to the Ombudsman directly. As always, the agency’s hotline calls are monitored and responded to as well.
Finally, the Ombudsman has contacted Contract and County facilities to set up similar procedures to maintain a virtual presence in those facilities as well.
Has the agency implemented any new cleaning procedures?
At all times, TJJD is sensitive to the concerns and safety issues related to any illness within our secure facilities and TJJD has regular safety and cleaning plans in place. Because of COVID-19, we have stepped up those procedures and provided guidance to our facilities to ensure they are cleaning routinely with a focus on high-touch surfaces and high-trafficked areas. Guidance includes safety standards on use of multiple cleaning products.
How has COVID-19 affected the classrooms that are operated by TJJD within the secure facilities?
Our schools were on Spring Break during the week of March 16, and that break was extended through the week of March 23.
Because the school buildings will remain closed to avoid large gatherings of people, beginning on March 30, teachers began providing instruction inside the dorms by observing the Rule of 10, which means that groups larger than 10 are to be avoided and social distancing must be observed.
Like any other essential personnel who work at the facilities, teachers must pass a health screening to enter the campus and engage with the youth.
How have the halfway houses been affected by COVID-19?
At this time,we have implemented safety measure similar to those at our secure facilities to protect staff and youth. In addition, we have postponed all community service work that occurs outside of our halfway houses and are increasing internal opportunities for the youth to meet community service requirements.
Have parole supervision visits changed?
Yes, those visits have been altered based on the level of supervision. We are increasing video and phone contacts and continuing in-person contact on a more limited basis and are prioritizing the visits by the risk level of youth.
For parolees, we are offering parents or 18-year-old youth the option of suspending the TJJD parole requirement to do community service or obtaining work during the duration of this situation. To request a waiver, please contact your child's parole officer or call TJJD's Marqus Butler at (512) 490-7768.
How has the agency responded to the youth in Harris County who has tested positive for COVID-19?
On March 26, the Harris County Juvenile Detention Center notified TJJD that a youth at that facility had tested positive for COVID-19. To ensure the safety of youth in the state facilities, TJJD placed a temporary hold on admissions from Harris County. To learn more, read the press release.