shelter | Definition

Doc's CJ Glossary by Adam J. McKee
Course: Introduction / Juvenile Justice


In the juvenile justice context, a shelter refers to a temporary and secure facility that is used to house young people who have been taken into custody by law enforcement or child welfare agencies, usually before or during the court process.

These facilities are intended to provide a safe and secure environment for young people who have been removed from their homes due to abuse, neglect, or other issues.

Juvenile shelters typically provide basic necessities such as food, clothing, and medical care, as well as counseling and other support services to help young people address the issues that led to their placement in the shelter. The length of stay in a shelter can vary depending on the individual case, but it is usually shorter than a stay in a juvenile detention center.

Shelters are also intended to be a temporary solution, as the ultimate goal is to return the young people to their homes or find them a safe and permanent living arrangement. This can include reuniting them with their families, placing them with foster families, or finding them a suitable group home or other long-term living arrangements.

Critics of juvenile shelters argue that they are overcrowded, understaffed, and lack sufficient resources and training. They also claim that they can be traumatic for young people, especially if they are held for long periods of time, and that they may not provide the best solutions for addressing the issues that led to their placement in the shelter.

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Last Modified: 01/12/2023


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