Welcome to the process for becoming a Certified Juvenile Services Practitioner!
Since 1968 the National Juvenile Detention Association (NJDA), a founding partner of the National Partnership for Juvenile Services (NPJS), has sought to improve the quality of the juvenile justice workforce. The NPJS is pleased you have shown an interest in joining ranks with other concerned practitioners across the country in becoming an advocate for children, youth and the juvenile justice profession.
Purpose of Certification
Certification is a process by which the NPJS recognizes practitioners in the field who have achieved the levels of education, training, and experience necessary to indicate they have a basic understanding and knowledge of the field of juvenile justice and the work required in a juvenile confinement setting.
Research shows the more education, training and experience an individual working in a juvenile confinement setting has, the more likely it is they will
- have good communication skills,
- effectively implement behavior management programming,
- and encourage and reinforce positive program participation and behavioral outcomes of youth for whom they are responsible (Roush, 1996).
In addition, the NJDA Code of Ethics states the following:
The Code of Ethics serves to stimulate greater concern by NJDA members for their own professional functioning and for the conduct of fellow professionals within the juvenile justice system.
Recognizing the critical role of conscience in choosing among courses of action and taking into account the moral ambiguities of life, the members of NJDA commit themselves to:
- Demonstrating the highest standards of professional conduct. Progress as a profession depends not only on public trust but on professional competency. Therefore, members strive for excellence in job performance, which advances the cause of the profession by gaining increased public respect in order to further the best interest of youth. Members support and encourage programs which develop knowledge, skills, and abilities directly relevant to juvenile detention services. Members demand regular and periodic feedback regarding their job performance and career goals. Members understand that the important component of juvenile detention services is the relationship between staff and detained youth. Members emphasize training and skill acquisition in the area of interpersonal communication.
The NPJS practitioner certification process establishes a system for voluntary certification, the goals of which are to identify practitioners who have the education, training and experience to deliver effective and quality services to detained youth. In addition, practitioner certification provides for recertification every three years to ensure the practitioner’s ongoing commitment to and participation in training and professional development, in particular as they relate to juvenile services and youth work.
Cost of Certification
The NPJS is committed to making practitioner certification affordable to all juvenile justice practitioners and is charging a fee for initial certification of $50. This fee is based upon the estimated cost, in terms of staff time, for the NPJS staff to receive, review, and respond to an application for certification, as well as the cost of materials and postage. The cost for recertification will be $40 for all previously certified practitioners.
Benefits of Certification
Practitioner certification provides benefits to both juvenile justice practitioners and juvenile justice facility/program administrators.
Benefits of certification to the juvenile justice practitioner include:
- Professional recognition of education, and job-related training and experience.
- Recertification requirements that provide increased motivation to participate in ongoing training and professional development opportunities.
- Enhanced access to employment and advances in employment in juvenile justice settings/agencies.
Benefits of certification to the juvenile justice facility/program administrator include:
- Professional recognition of an existing employee’s education, and job-related training and experience. Assurance that employees and applicants for employment with this certification have at least a basic understanding and knowledge of the field of juvenile justice and the work required in a juvenile confinement setting.
- Increased motivation for employees to participate in training and professional development opportunities due to re-certification requirements.
Certification is only a beginning to professionalizing the field of juvenile justice. If we wish to retain these certified practitioners, jurisdictions will need to find the will and the means to adequately compensate and reward those individuals who have made the investments required to obtain and renew their practitioner certification. Compensation and rewards may come in many forms such as increased wages, greater access to agency sponsored and/or supported training and incentives and support for continuing educational pursuits.
It is the hope of the NPJS that certification may serve as a source of pride for those individuals who choose to become certified practitioners, that facility administrators will eventually look for and expect employees and applicants for employment to be certified, and that increased compensation may eventually be tied to certification.
Finally, if you are not already, we hope you will consider becoming a member of the NPJS and promote both certification and NPJS membership among your co-workers.