Ferris School Lacrosse Team Hosts 2021 Season

WILMINGTON – After a one-year hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Ferris School lacrosse team finished their Spring season strong.

“It has been an incredible experience to see the youth not only in some cases learn a new sport, but also learn about themselves,” said Tanya Banks, Superintendent of Ferris School. “Lacrosse brings together teamwork, sportsmanship, leadership, and resilience. Wins are fantastic – but at the end of the day, the personal growth a youth may feel is the biggest victory of all.”

In this photo, Ferris School and Polytech players and coaches get ready for their game in May.
In this photo, Ferris School and Polytech players and coaches get ready for their game in May.

Ferris School, a Level V secure care juvenile rehabilitation facility, has coordinated a lacrosse team since 2017 when the innovative program was first brought to Ferris, making it one of the first juvenile facilities with a lacrosse team. This year, the Ferris Falcons team and coaches followed DIAA and Delaware Division of Public Health guidance as they finished with a 3-1-1 record. Games were played at Ferris School. Ferris School Coaches Emmanuel Carlis and Douglas Griffin as well as volunteer coaches, Coach Dwaine Taylor, AVP Learning Consultant with Bank of America and Coach Kay McDonough, a former University of Delaware lacrosse player who recently received her doctorate from the university, guided youth through the season.

“I am extremely proud of the Ferris School staff, coaches, and youth for another successful season, especially under such unprecedented circumstances. It took much planning, coordination, and passion from our staff to make this season a reality for youth. It’s been a difficult year, but efforts such as this provide much hope for the future,” said John Stevenson, Director of the Division of Youth Rehabilitative Services, which oversees Ferris School. “When youth leave our care, we want nothing more than for them to have lives full of joy and success. This sports team provides an avenue to build those skills for the future.”

Media Contact: Jen Rini, jen.rini@delaware.gov

Ferris School Recognized as 2021 Finalist for National Juvenile Justice Award 

WILMINGTON – Delaware’s Ferris School has been selected as finalist for the 2021 PbS Barbara Allen-Hagen Award in the juvenile correction program category.

This prestigious annual award, through the national continuous improvement program Performance-based Standards (PbS), is given in three categories: correction, detention, and community residential programs. Programs are recognized based on practices that exemplify commitment to the PbS goal of facilitating positive outcomes for youth, staff and families, and mission of treating all youth in custody as ‘one of our own.’ This is the fourth time since 2017 a Delaware Division of Youth Rehabilitative Services (YRS) program has been recognized as a finalist, with Ferris School, Stevenson House Detention Center and Grace Cottage previously taking home awards in each of the three categories.

“Being selected as a finalist for the Barbara Allen-Hagen Award is a true honor as it once again places Ferris School as one of the top juvenile secure care facilities in the country. I am so proud of Superintendent Tanya Banks, Assistant Superintendent George Iannetta and the entire Ferris team for their dedication and passion to helping youth and staff continue the rewarding work of juvenile rehabilitation while grappling with an unprecedented pandemic,” said Josette Manning, Cabinet Secretary of the Delaware Department of Services for Children, Youth and Their Families, which oversees the Division of Youth Rehabilitative Services. “I wish the team the best of luck as PbS works through the selection process to choose 2021 winners.”

Ferris School Block Party 2020
In 2020, programming highlights at Ferris School included a block party to thank staff for their dedication during the pandemic. In this photo, Ferris School Superintendent Tanya Banks and Ferris School Program Manager Ashley Morse pose for a photo.

All of YRS’ programs voluntarily participate in the Performance-based Standards (PbS) program, which is a national data-driven improvement model that focuses on quality improvement and best practices. The PbS selection committee, made up of youth professionals, researchers, and leaders, will choose the 2021 Barbara Allen-Hagen Award winners over of the next few weeks.

“As the lead juvenile justice agency serving youth ordered to our care through the judicial system, the Division of Youth Rehabilitative Services works tirelessly to coordinate supports to address the needs of youth and factors that contribute to delinquency,” said John Stevenson, director of the Division of Youth Rehabilitative Services. “As someone who began his career in juvenile rehabilitation at Ferris School, I am unbelievably proud of the staff for this recognition. Our work is not easy, but it is a calling, and celebrating moments like this is so important.”

Ferris School, a Level V secure care rehabilitation facility, is an American Correctional Association accredited treatment facility providing services for youth. Ferris School offers a structured learning environment that integrates all elements of rehabilitation: Education, programming, treatment, and therapeutic clinical programs. Offerings for youth also include a one-of-a-kind lacrosse program, music production, religious programming, and on-site student job training. In 2020, some of the programming highlights included adapting to remote education to allow youth to complete credits and graduate; encouraging COVID-19 precautions like masking and social distancing to protect staff and youth; facilitating weekly virtual video calls for youth to see their families; improving coaching and staff support; and facilitating morale boosting activities for staff. Morale activities included a block party to thank staff for their dedication during the pandemic; the Ferris Prize Patrol, where staff recognized their colleagues for exceptional work; and the Ferris Unity Board, where staff and youth shared positive experiences.

“I know the pandemic has been extremely difficult, but we were able to move forward through the comradery and commitment to youth success,” said Tanya Banks, Ferris School Superintendent. “I want to thank my team for their unwavering commitment and creativity in adapting in COVID and helping our youth on their rehabilitative journey. Being selected as a finalist once again for the Barbara Allen-Hagen Award is an incredible honor that we do not take lightly.”

For more information on the Division of Youth Rehabilitative Services, visit our website:

Ferris School Block Party 2020
In 2020, Ferris School organized a block party to commemorate the hard work and dedication of staff. This photo features Ferris School Assistant Superintendent George Iannetta and Rev. Mark Gardner, Ferris School Volunteer Coordinator and Chaplain.


Delaware’s Barbara Allen-Hagen Award Winners

Stevenson House Detention Center in Milford (detention) – 2019

Grace Cottage in Wilmington (community residential) – 2017

Ferris School in Wilmington (correction) – 2017

Media Contact: Jen Rini, jen.rini@delaware.gov

Incident at Ferris School Results in Property Damage

WILMINGTON – The Delaware Children’s Department is reporting an incident at Ferris School that resulted in the significant damage of state property.

Ferris School is a Level V locked secure facility under the Delaware Division of Youth Rehabilitative Services. Youth committed to Ferris School are identified as serious and/or chronic, repeat offenders who have been deemed amenable to juvenile services and require intensive rehabilitative treatment.

On Saturday, April 24, three youth were involved in a disturbance at the facility. No staff or youth were injured. The incident began as youth were directed to their rooms for bed. At 10:57 p.m., a resident broke open the door to his room. The resident then engaged two additional residents, helping them to break open their doors. Once out of their rooms, the three residents began rioting and damaged state property, including throwing a wooden table against a glass door and attempting to remove phones from the wall.

Because Ferris School is a juvenile rehabilitative facility and youth at Ferris have been deemed amendable to juvenile services, staff are not equipped with pepper spray or other mechanisms which are used for population control in typical prison settings. Therefore, around 11:35 p.m., Delaware State Police entered the building to assist staff and moved the three youth to New Castle County Detention Center where they remain at this time. It’s estimated that about $4,500 of property damage occurred.

Ferris School is divided into specific “pods” for youth. In the locked facility, each youth has a room with a wooden door that was designed by prison architects. This incident, where individual doors were broken open, was the first of its kind. The facility receives regular fire marshal inspections, internal safety inspections and is accredited by the American Correctional Association. Additionally, the facility was adequately staffed for the number of youth present and staffing levels were not a factor in the incident.

“We appreciate the assistance of the Delaware State Police and our staff for working to ensure the safety of Ferris School. We are extremely concerned that this incident occurred and are thankful no staff or youth were injured,” said Josette Manning, Cabinet Secretary of the Delaware Children’s Department, also known as the Department of Services for Children, Youth and Their Families. “Residents of Ferris School have committed serious criminal acts and faced significant trauma in their lives. As a result, their behavior can manifest in aggressive, and sometimes dangerous tendencies. In this case, the youth involved were older teenage violent offenders all of whom have previously received residential rehabilitative services. The safety of our staff and youth is paramount in all that we do, and we will review this incident thoroughly to determine if there are changes that need to be made to ensure this does not happen again.”

Media Contact: Jen Rini, jen.rini@delaware.gov

Delaware Division of Youth Rehabilitative Services Honored with Two National Awards

For Immediate Release                                                                                     Contact: Joseph Smack

Wednesday, August 14, 2019                                                                    (302) 633-2501 or 893-8930 (m)



Delaware Division of Youth Rehabilitative Services Honored with Two National Awards

 Stevenson House Detention Center recognized for reducing confinement & Ferris School best group performance in Kids Got Talent contest

 Wilmington – The Delaware Children’s Department, Division of Youth Rehabilitative Services was recently honored with the prestigious Barbara Allen-Hagen Award for improving the conditions of confinement and the quality of life for youths in secure placements. The award is given in three categories: juvenile correction facilities, detention/assessment centers, and community residential programs and are judged on exemplary commitment to Performance-based Standards to best serve youths, families, and staff.

One winner in each category was selected and honored at the Council of Juvenile Correctional Administrators and Performance-based standards Awards Night in Boston, MA on August 2, 2019. Stevenson House Detention Center in Milford was selected as the winner in the detention/assessment center category for effectively reducing confinement by modifying the behavior management system in the facility. System improvements at Stevenson House have reduced the use of isolation from an average of 131 per month in 2017 to 11 per month in 2019.

“Being recognized nationally for the work the Division of Youth Rehabilitative Services does every day to improve the lives of youth in our care is exciting and validates that we are on the right track in helping these adolescents and their families achieve better outcomes. Superintendent Kenney and her team at Stevenson House have done outstanding work to change the culture of the facility so that it benefits not only the youth we serve, but also our staff,” said Josette Manning, Cabinet Secretary of the Department of Services for Children, Youth & Their Families.

Performance-based Standards is a data-driven improvement model grounded in research that challenges youth correction, detention, assessment and community-based facilities and agencies to treat all youths in custody as ‘one of our own.’

“Stevenson House is honored to accept the Barbara Allen-Hagen Award,” said Katie Kenney, superintendent of Stevenson House Detention Center. “The entire staff should be commended for the hard work that has been put forth to improve our facility. We recognize that the changes we have made and continue to put in place were huge shifts in how we operated on a daily basis, however, we have seen the positive results and will continue to move forward.” Kenney concluded.

Ferris School for Boys was also honored for winning the group performance category of the Performance-based Standards ‘Kids Got Talent’ contest. The competition had over 62 submissions from facilities across the nation. The Ferris School entry, an original music video “What You Know,” was fully written and produced by students Jamir Goldsborough, Isiah Lecompte, and Zyaire Martinez. The winning video was created through a new music program initiative at Ferris School that was developed by supervisors Richard Booker and Joshua Fields. “This was an amazing opportunity for our students,” said John Stevenson, Director of the Division of Youth Rehabilitative Services, “We are very proud of their accomplishment in winning this national talent contest and that their hard work has been noticed.”

The winning performance video may be found here: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1oUgzf83q5OjlAdsY-qoXZGTIhuWd3mai/view

The Children’s Department provides services to children who have been abused, neglected, are dependent, have behavioral health or substance problems, have been adjudicated delinquent by the Courts, as well as prevention services targeted toward all youth. For more information, please visit https://kids.delaware.gov

For more information on Performance-based Standards, please visit their website at www.pbstandard.org


Criminal Justice Council Announces Funding for Reentry Programs

WILMINGTON, Del. – Delaware has an astounding need for successful reentry programs and services. Attorney General Matt Denn and Criminal Justice Council Executive Director Christian Kervick are pleased to announce that workshops will be held in early August to explain to non-profit groups how they can apply for grants from $2 million that has been set aside to support community-based efforts to reduce recidivism among adults and juveniles released from Delaware correctional facilities.

The workshops will be hosted by the Criminal Justice Council on August 3 from 1:00 pm to 4:00 pm at the Dover Police Department (400 South Queen Street), and on August 4 from 1:00 pm to 4:00 pm at the Goodwill Center in Wilmington (300 East Lea Boulevard).  To register for either event, please go to the CJC’s event’s page.

The workshops will also be videotaped for interested non-profit groups that cannot attend either workshop, and the videos will be posted on the web sites of both the Delaware Department of Justice and the Delaware Criminal Justice Council.

Grants will be available in amounts up to $150,000, and for periods of up to two years.  The structure of the solicitation is designed to ensure that funds are available both to larger organizations with a history of receiving and spending grant monies, and smaller qualified organizations that may not have an extensive history of receiving grants.

About 97% of the inmate population will be released to the community. Bridging the gap in resources is crucial for the success of the reentry process.  These funds are being made available to improve the lives of all Delaware’s citizens.

More information is available on the Criminal Justice Council’s Open Solicitations page on their website.  Concept papers must be submitted by September 2, 2016.

Please contact Valarie Tickle with any questions about this new funding program. Ms. Tickle may be reached at 302-577-5030.