Department of Juvenile Justice

Residential Services

What is the purpose of the program?

The purpose of the Residential Services program in the Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) is to provide care and housing for committed youth; address their treatment needs; and enhance their education in residential commitment programs. Youth are sent to residential commitment programs for violating the law. It is not the same as conviction or imprisonment, as the juvenile justice system is designed to protect the public and hold offenders accountable while offering a chance for rehabilitation.

How are youth placed in residential facilities?

Juvenile courts and Department of Juvenile Justice staff have distinct roles regarding the placement of juvenile offenders committed to the custody of the state.
  • Judges commit juvenile offenders to restrictiveness levels based on the risk they pose to public safety.
  • Department of Juvenile Justice staff members assign each youth to a specific residential facility.

How many youth are placed in residential programs?

In Fiscal Year 2019-20, a total of 3,388 youth were served through residential commitment programs.

How many facilities are there?

Forty-six residential facilities serve delinquent youth throughout the state. All programs are provided by private contractors, with the Department of Juvenile Justice providing oversight.

What are restrictiveness levels?

The department's residential commitment programs are grouped into three restrictiveness levels based on the assessed risk to public safety: nonsecure residential, high-risk residential, and maximum-risk residential. There are many types of residential programs including wilderness programs, halfway houses, and secure, highly structured correctional facilities.  High-risk and maximum-risk levels generally require longer lengths of stay. Minimum-risk non-residential level is a non-residential program and falls under the jurisdiction of Probation and Community Intervention rather than Residential Services.

How long do youth stay in residential facilities?

According to the department's most recent Comprehensive Accountability Report for Residential Services, the average length of stay for youth in residential commitment programs varied by risk level. The average length of stay according to restrictiveness level is shown below for youth released in Fiscal Year 2018-19.  

Average Length of Stay in Fiscal Year 2018-19
Risk Level Days Served
Nonsecure 228.9
High-risk 346.9
Maximum-risk 645.2
Source:  Department of Juvenile Justice Comprehensive Accountability Report.

What do youth in residential programs do?

All youth are required to finish an individually-designed treatment plan which is based on their rehabilitative needs. Youth can attend educational and vocational programs. They may also have access to behavioral management, mental health services, substance abuse treatment, parenting skills, job training, and other programs.

Do youth who complete residential programs commit new crimes?

The department defines recidivism as subsequent adjudications or convictions.

According to the department's most recent Comprehensive Accountability Report for Residential Services, the recidivism rates of all youth released from a residential commitment program in Fiscal Year 2018-19 was 42%. These recidivism rates of youth varied by risk level of the youth.

Recidivism Rates of Youth by Risk Level in Fiscal Year 2018-19
Risk Level Recidivism Rate
Nonsecure 42%
High-risk 46%
Maximum-risk 25%
Source:  Department of Juvenile Justice Comprehensive Accountability Report.

Who investigates suspected abuse of youth in programs?

The department's Central Communication Center takes calls regarding incidents and complaints such as program disruptions, medical incidents, and complaints against staff. Additionally, the Florida Department of Children and Families operates an abuse hotline that investigates allegations of child abuse.

How are these activities funded?

Fiscal Year: 2021-22
Title Fund Dollars Positions


Educational Evaluation. The 2021 Legislature passed Chapter 2021-218, Laws of Florida, which, among other provisions, required DJJ, in consultation with the Florida Department of Education, to evaluate the viability of an alternative model for providing and funding educational services for youth in detention and residential facilities. The model must provide for assessments and direct educational services, including, but not limited to special education and career and technical educational services, transition planning, educational program, accountability standards, research-based best practices for educating justice-involved youth, and the recruiting, hiring, and training of teachers.

Contraband. Chapter 2020-59, Laws of Florida, revises the list of prohibited contraband for juvenile detention centers and commitment programs. Statute previously prohibited items such as unauthorized food or clothing, intoxicating beverages, and firearms or weapons. This bill adds restrictions on marijuana, hemp, cellphones, and vaping devices. The bill specifies punishment for the prohibited contraband which ranges from a first degree misdemeanor to a second degree felony.

Where can I find related OPPAGA reports?

Annual Report on the Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children in Florida, 2021, Report 21-06, July 2021
Annual Report on the Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children in Florida, 2020, Report 20-05, July 2020
Direct File of Children to Adult Court Is Decreasing; Better Data Needed to Assess Sanctions, Report 17-06, March 2017

Where can I get more information?

What are the applicable statutes?

Chapter 985, Florida Statutes.

Whom do I contact for help?

Garrett Tucker, Acting Assistant Secretary, Residential Services, 850-921-4188