2020: Kristine Jolivette

University of Alabama

This SABA grant will help support the project Embedding Applied Behavior Analysis Principles Into Residential and Juvenile Correctional Facilities, which focuses on creating and disseminating facility-specific content applications to introduce staff to and improve their use of behavior analytic principles and practices, in lieu of punishment and other reactive practices, when working with vulnerable and marginalized youth exhibiting problem behaviors.


Thousands of youth with chronic and intense behavioral challenges are daily served in residential and juvenile corrections facilities, spending the majority of their time with staff who may lack any training related to behavioral principles, and may rely solely on punishment and other reactive strategies to induce (unsuccessfully) behavioral change. We posit that applied behavioral principles can be successfully integrated into the daily operations by these staff and flexibly applied with youth across academic/behavioral/social-emotional domains to increase engagement/achievement and improve outcomes.


We will provide behavioral principles exposure, explicit instruction, and reinforcement with facility context-specific examples through a stakeholder gathering and project website, suitable for use in these applied and authentic settings. The project will have four phases, focused on scalability, sustainability, and replicability:


  • Phase 1: Secure stakeholder involvement through our existing network; conduct a needs assessment on behavioral principles; create a list of common challenging youth behaviors/scenarios in these settings; create initial briefs on the principles. 
  • Phase 2: Interface with stakeholders on rationale for ABA principles within their context; create an initial set of deliverables per feedback; create a sustainability plan. 
  • Phase 3: Conduct the stakeholder gathering/iterative processes; create website infrastructure; push website live.
  • Phase 4: Edit/add deliverables per ongoing website feedback/stakeholder voice; increase public awareness of deliverables; maintain website.


Our core stakeholders are both agency- and facility-level staff in multiple positions and departments from more than five states and eight agencies that serve school-age youth with and at risk for disabilities in residential treatment centers and juvenile justice facilities. The funds from this grant will help offset the housing costs of participants for the stakeholder gathering. This project is jointly led by Drs. Kristine Jolivette, Sara Sanders, and Skip Kumm at the University of Alabama.


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