Residential Services


For youth who are risks to themselves or others or are at risk to not appear for their next court date, juvenile courts are permitted to order a youth to be placed in a detention program. DJS operates all of the detention facilities in Maryland. ​All of the juvenile detention facilities in Maryland are operated by DJS and are "hardware secure," which means that the facility primarily relies on the use of construction and hardware such as locks, bars and fences to restrict the movement of the youth residing there.

Every youth who is admitted to a detention facility takes part in an admission interview by a DJS admissions officer to collect and verify basic information. Additionally, the admissions process involves an initial health screening to review the youth's physical, mental and substance abuse needs. Within 7 days of admission, a licensed physician or nurse practitioner performs a full medical history and physical examination. A youth is additionally receives a mental health screening by a qualified mental health professional to determine any mental health issues and, if needed, a more in-depth analysis will be performed by a licensed psychiatrist or psychologist. Each youth also receives a substance abuse screening.

While residing at a detention facility, all youth have access to medical, behavioral, counseling, dietary and educational services and engage in recreational activities. Youth in a detention facility attend school five days a week for six hours a day year round. DJS serves three distinct populations of youth in its detention facilities: pre-disposition and post-disposition youth, and youth pending adult criminal charges may also be held in DJS detention facilities while the transfer of jurisdiction from adult to juvenile court is being considered​ Pre-disposition youth are waiting to go to court for their final adjudicatory hearing. Post-disposition youth have already been adjudicated and ordered by a judge to be placed in a treatment program and are waiting for a space to open in a treatment program.​​

Treatment Programs for Committed Youth​

DJS aims to select the most appropriate out-of-home program for youth who have been committed to the custody of DJS by the juvenile court. The court determines the appropriate level of care for each youth but does not select the specific programs to which the youth are referred. Treatment programs vary based on the services provided, as well as by security level.

DJS has made significant reform efforts in recent years, including an increased focus on several key principles to guide decision making regarding out-of-home placements. These principles are:

  • Utilize community-based treatment whenever possible;
  • Utilize lengths of stay that maximize treatment benefits;
  • Utilize research-based programs;
  • Prioritize out-of-home placements in Qualified Residential
  • Treatment Programs (QRTPs) when available;
  • Identify trauma and provide trauma-responsive care;
  • Reduce racial and other systemic biases;
  • Utilize a restorative approach by seeking options to repair harm to victims and communities; and
  • Foster positive youth development and resiliency.
DBT Pending Placement for Stakeholders (flyer)

Pending Placement

There are two units at Baltimore City Juvenile Justice Center (BCJJC) and one unit at the Cheltenham Youth Facility for youth who are pending placement. While in the Pending Placement unit young people begin their treatment services with the behavioral health staff, resident advisors, and case managers.

The treatment services the young person participates in will be counted and transferred over to their treatment service plan at either Green Ridge Youth Center, Backbone Mountain Youth Center, or the Victor Cullen Center.