In this community-based participatory research project, Penn State staff worked with a team from the Bureau of Juvenile Justice Services Division of Quality Improvement and Training Services to develop a sustainable self-care program for staff working in residential youth facilities across the Commonwealth. Elements of this self-care curriculum included brief mindfulness-based practices for stress management, emotion skills awareness and management, empathy and compassionate responding, and understanding of vicarious/secondary trauma.
Roundtable discussions on stress and self-care were conducted with staff and supervisors at YDC/YFC facilities to identify primary sources of stress for staff, self-care strategies currently being used effectively, and optimal intervention points that occur throughout the day/week to implement new self-care strategies. Additionally, baseline surveys were completed by over 250 staff to collect information on sources and effects of stress and self-care for program development and evaluation purposes. Finally, BJJS Training Services staff and site-based peer coaches received training in mindfulness-based practices for stress management to assure usability and sustainability of the program.