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Who are Youth-in-Custody?

The Utah State Board of Education defines Youth-in-Custody as: “Individuals under the age of 21 who are in the custody of or receiving services from the Utah Department of Human Services or an equivalent Native American tribe, or who are being held in juvenile detention facilities.” STEMCAP works in facilities that span the whole spectrum of Youth-In-Custody, working in facilities that range from juvenile detention centers to residential treatment centers.

Youth-In-Custody are required by law to receive an education. We work with teachers within these centers and carry out our programming primarily during students’ science class periods. In the 2020-2021 fiscal year, the Utah Juvenile Justice and Youth Service served 5,871 individual juveniles.

For more information about the Utah Juvenile Justice and Youth Service and Utah YIC, click for (a) the most recent Annual report available to the public (2016) or (b) the Online Data Dashboard updated annually. 

2016 JJYS Annual Report
Annual Data Dashboard

In the United States, on average there are 48,000 youth held in facilities away from their home as a result of juvenile or criminal involvement. This chart demonstrates the breakdown of holding facilities across the country. In Utah, in 2016, of all youths in custody on a typical day, about 45.4% were in community based programs and about 22% were in locked programs.

Where We Work

STEMCAP works in five Youth-in-Custody (YIC) facilities in and around Salt Lake Valley and the Utah State Hospital. We work within students’ classrooms, greenhouses, and the grounds of our partner facilities.

Within the University of Utah, we are based within the Office of Engagement in Undergraduate Studies. We collaborate with many different departments on campus and with other Community Partners throughout the Salt Lake Valley.

Youth Center Information

Terms Used by the Juvenile Justice System


  • “…individuals under the age of 21 who are in custody of or receiving services from the Utah Department of Human Services or an equivalent Native American tribe, or who are being held in a juvenile detention facility.” (Utah State Board of Education)


  • “Youth in Care students include anyone who is younger than 21 years old and receiving certain services from the Department of Human Services or an equivalent agency of a Native American tribe. This includes any student who is currently in the custody of the Division of Child and Family Services (DCFS), the Division of Juvenile Justice and Youth Services (JJYS), or those who are being held in a juvenile detention facility. Students who are not in the State’s custody but who are receiving services from the Department of Human Services may also qualify as YIC students.” (Utah Department of Human Services, Utah State Board of Education).

*“Youth in Custody” and “Youth in Care” are often used interchangeably when referring to youth who are incarcerated – depending on the organization. Youth in Care broadens the definition to encompass any youth who is receiving state services. 


  • “Commitment is one of the options available to the court as a possible sentence. It is the transfer of legal responsibility [of] the child to the state and often includes placement in a private or state-run facility. In many jurisdictions, the court will impose an indeterminate sentence … allowing the [state] agency to determine when the youth may be released from incarceration based on good behavior, noted rehabilitation, and the youth’s prior juvenile record. A youth may also be subject to commitment as a sanction resulting from a probation revocation hearing. Commitment occurs only after adjudication, as opposed to “detention,” where a youth may be placed pending a … hearing.” (National Juvenile Defender Center).

Types of Placement

    • “Long-term, locked confinement for youth adjudicated by the Juvenile Court typically reserved for the most serious and habitual juvenile offenders.” (UDHS)
    • “Community Placement is for youth ordered into the custody of Juvenile Justice and Youth Services (JJYS) and is usually private residential settings outside of the home. Youth are sometimes able to remain in their home with family support.” (UDHS/JJYS)
    • “DSI provides responsive support to youth during the school day, including education, evidence-based groups, family support services, and skills development for court-involved youth.” (UDHS/JJYS)
    • “JJYS programs provide temporary, locked confinement to a child awaiting adjudication or placement and for a child ordered to detention as a sentence or for contempt of court. Children may also be placed in detention if they pose an immediate danger to themselves or others.” (UDHS/JJYS)
  • IN-TREATMENT YOUTH (specific to the Utah State Hospital)
    • “Children with severe mental illness are admitted from around the state through their local mental health authority… After a thorough assessment is completed, the clinical team, with input from the child’s family, creates a comprehensive individual treatment plan based on evidence-based treatment…”
    • “The forensic services, housed in a secure building, serve 100 court-ordered individuals on four different units. Most of the individuals have been found by a judge to be ‘Not Competent to Stand Trial’… Programming includes educational services, medication management, substance abuse, anger management, and medical illness.” (DCFS/Utah State Hospital)

Other Useful Terms


  • Plays the role of a behavior monitor, sometimes a case manager. If the context of STEMCAP programming, JJYS staff escorts students from place to place and monitors them during class. 


  • “An act that would not be considered an offense if committed by an adult. Such offenses include sexual behavior, alcohol consumption, running away, and truancy.” (UDHS)


  • Assures parents access to their student’s educational records and protects rights to privacy by limiting access to educational records without parental consent. (UDHS)



Juvenile Court Terminology, National Juvenile Defender Center (NJDC)

Easy Access to the Census of Juveniles in Residential Placement Glossary Utah State Board of Education: Youth In Custody


Utah Juvenile Justice and Youth Services (JJYS) – Strategic Indicators

-DCFS Education-

Educating Youth in State Care