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Juvenile Residential Facility Census

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The Juvenile Residential Facility Census (JRFC) was administered for the first time in 2000 by the U.S. Bureau of the Census through an interagency agreement with the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP). The JRFC is designed to collect information about the facilities in which juvenile offenders are held. It is a mailed survey conducted on the fourth Wednesday in October in even numbered years. The JRFC asks juvenile residential custody facilities in the U.S. to document specific components of the environment of the facility. The census is not mailed to adult prisons or jails nor to facilities used exclusively for mental health, substance abuse, or for abused or neglected children.

JRFC is one of four components in a multilayered effort by OJJDP to describe both the youth placed in residential facilities and the environments of these facilities. The companion data collection to JRFC, the Census of Juveniles in Residential Placement (CJRP), collects information from the same facilities that meet JRFC inclusion criteria. CJRP is conducted in odd number years also on the fourth Wednesday in October. Other data collection efforts that provide information on juveniles in custody are the National Juvenile Court Data Archive (NJCDA) and the Survey of Youth in Residential Placement (SYRP). The NJCDA collects information on the processing of juvenile court cases and the sanctions imposed by juvenile courts, including information on cases in which the youth is detained. The final component, the SYRP, collects a broad range of self-report information from interviews with individual youth in residential placement.


The JRFC facility inclusion criteria are the same three as those applied to the CJRP: 1) residential facilities in operation on the census reference date: 2) public or private (or tribal since 1999) operation; and 3) intended for juvenile offenders (although some hold adults as well). Specifically excluded are: nonresidential facilities; detention centers operated as part of adult jails; facilities exclusively for mental health, drug abuse, or for dependent/neglected youth; foster homes; and federal correctional facilities (e.g., Immigration and Naturalization Service, Bureau of Indian Affairs, U.S. Marshalls, or Bureau of Prisons).


In late September, the Census Bureau mails a notification letter to each identified facility indicating that the JRFC data collection forms will soon arrive in the mail. The letter describes categories of information requested on the form and indicates the census date in October on which JRFC data are to be captured. Respondents are also provided with an information telephone number for the Census Bureau should questions or problems arise when completing the census forms.

In mid-October, the Census Bureau mails JRFC data collection forms to respondents representing public, private, and tribal residential juvenile facilities. Some state and regional agencies provide JRFC data for more than one facility under their jurisdiction.

Data collection forms are to be returned by the end of November. In early January, facilities that have not yet responded are sent a reminder notice and asked to return the completed census forms by the end of January. All facilities that miss the January deadline are contacted via telephone by Census staff. The Census Bureau accepts data from the facilities until mid-July. Data processing, including error checks, imputation, and editing, continues until the following September. Data are received and prepared for analysis at the Census Bureau. The Governments Division of the Census Bureau handles respondent questions and concerns.


The JRFC questionnaire is divided into sections by topic area. Within each section are topic-related questions that are answered from the perspective of the facility responding to the census. The Census Bureau modifies sections and corresponding questions on the form prior to mailing it to facilities. For example, the 2004 JRFC form has questions in Section 1, General Facility Information, which did not appear in earlier versions. The Physical Health section in the 2000 and 2004 forms was not included in the 2002 census.

The 2006 JRFC was the most comprehensive survey to date, including questions about all 8 topic areas:

  • General Facility Information
  • Physical Health Care Services
  • Mental Health Services
  • Substance Abuse Services
  • Education Services
  • Events From the Past Thirty Days
  • Events from the Past Year
  • General information

In 2008, the JRFC reverted back to collecting only the core elements, while in 2010, JRFC included questions about most topic areas:

  • General Facility Information
  • Mental Health Services
  • Substance Abuse Services
  • Education Services
  • Events From the Past Thirty Days
  • Events from the Past Year
  • General information

(Forms: 2000 | 2002 | 2004 | 2006 | 2008 | 2010 | 2012 | 2014 | 2016)


JRFC collects information on facility characteristics, including size, physical layout, structure, security arrangements, and ownership. The census asks specific questions about the conditions of confinement, use of bed space, and the use of isolation or restraints. Questions also address residential services provided by the facility such as independent living arrangements and foster care for youth. An array of questions focus on physical health care services provided inside and outside the facility. Other questions address health care services, treatment, and diagnostic testing along with information about the providers of service, such as nurses, doctors, and specialists (e.g. dentists, ophthalmologists, gynecologists, etc.). The census also collects information about mental health services provided within the facility and at locations outside of the facility. Questions solicit details about mental health assessments and diagnostic tests to determine suicide risks and to identify other mental health needs, availability and types of therapeutic interventions, specialty and educational level of mental health professionals and counselors, and special living/sleeping units and treatments programs for sex offenders. Census asks facilities about substance abuse evaluations, drug analysis, treatment plans and about in-house and outside forms of substance abuse counseling and therapy. Educational services questions address issues about academic assessment to determine specific educational needs and grade level, availability and types of educational services, and school attendance requirements. Finally, the JRFC collects information on any deaths in custody, a subject on which OJJDP must report annually.


Repeat mailings and phone contacts are made to maximize responding. In mid-October, the Census Bureau mails JRFC forms to almost 4,000 identified facilities. Of these facilities, some are closed on the reference date. After the initial mailing, a small number of additional facilities are identified (through responses from facilities or other contacts) as open on the reference date and are subsequently sent JRFC forms. Facilities open on the reference date can be categorized as temporarily out of scope (e.g., they did not hold juvenile offenders on the reference date), permanently out of scope (e.g., they were not able to hold juvenile offenders over night), or in-scope. A small proportion of in-scope facilities neither return JRFC forms nor do they respond to telephone calls from Census Bureau personnel requesting that the institution participate in the census. The Census Bureau designates these facilities as non-respondents and imputes some responses for them. Using the number of in-scope facilities as a base, the JRFC facility response rate was 83% in 2000, 84% in 2002, 86% in 2004, 88% in 2006, 86% in 2008, 91% in 2010, 91% in 2012, 87% in 2014, and 82% in 2016.

Some facilities were not able to provide all of the information requested. In such cases, data are imputed from complete records to fill in incomplete records. Therefore, reported JRFC estimates regarding facility characteristics may differ from their actual characteristics and counts of juveniles in custody may differ from the actual counts.


The JRFC is administered every other year, in even-numbered years. The census reference date is the last Wednesday in October.


JRFC provides characteristics of the residential facilities that hold primarily juvenile offenders. One-day counts give a picture of facility operations for a standing population. Facility information can be generalized to juvenile residential placement facilities (except those for drug treatment or mental health only, or for dependents).

JRFC does not capture data on juveniles held in adult prisons or jails; therefore, in the JRFC data, juveniles placed in juvenile facilities by criminal courts represent an unknown proportion of juveniles incarcerated by criminal courts.

JRFC does not include facilities exclusively intended for drug or mental health treatment, even though such facilities may house some offenders. However, numerous juveniles in residential placement for whom data are captured by JRFC may be receiving such treatment.


By statute and regulation, OJJDP must protect the privacy of individuals included in its surveys. Although JRFC data files are not generally publicly available, they may be made available to researchers on a case-by-case basis. Researchers should visit the National Juvenile Corrections Data Resource Guide at ICPSR for more information regarding access requirements and procedures.


Juvenile Residential Facility Census Databook. Data Analysis Tool. Available at https://www.ojjdp.gov/ojstatbb/jrfcdb/

Juvenile Residential Facility Census, 2016: Selected Findings. (2018). OJJDP Bulletin. Available at https://www.ojjdp.gov/pubs/251785.pdf.

Service Availability Increased in Juvenile Residential Placement Facilities (2018). OJJDP Data Snapshot. Available at https://www.ojjdp.gov/ojstatbb/snapshots/DataSnapshot_JRFC2016.pdf.

Juvenile Residential Facility Census, 2014: Selected Findings. (2016). OJJDP Bulletin. Available at https://www.ojjdp.gov/pubs/250123.pdf.

Data Reflect Changing Nature of Facility Populations, Characteristics, and Practices (2015). OJJDP Data Snapshot. Available at https://www.ojjdp.gov/ojstatbb/snapshots/DataSnapshot_JRFC2014.pdf.

Juvenile Residential Facility Census, 2012: Selected Findings. (2015). OJJDP Bulletin. Available at https://www.ojjdp.gov/pubs/247207.pdf.

Juvenile Residential Facility Census, 2010: Selected Findings. (2013). OJJDP Bulletin. Available at https://www.ojjdp.gov/ojstatbb/publications/StatBBAbstract.asp?BibID=263222.

Juvenile Residential Facility Census, 2008: Selected Findings. (2011). OJJDP Bulletin. Available at https://www.ojjdp.gov/ojstatbb/publications/StatBBAbstract.asp?BibID=253761.

Juveniles in Residential Placement: 1997-2008. (2010). OJJDP Fact Sheet. Available at https://www.ojjdp.gov/ojstatbb/publications/StatBBAbstract.asp?BibID=251406.

Juvenile Residential Facility Census, 2006: Selected Findings. (2009). OJJDP Bulletin. Available at https://www.ojjdp.gov/ojstatbb/publications/StatBBAbstract.asp?BibID=250141.

Juvenile Residential Facility Census, 2004: Selected Findings . (2009). OJJDP Bulletin. Available at https://www.ojjdp.gov/ojstatbb/publications/StatBBAbstract.asp?BibID=244623.

Juvenile Residential Facility Census, 2002: Selected Findings . (2006). OJJDP Bulletin. Available at https://www.ojjdp.gov/ojstatbb/publications/StatBBAbstract.asp?BibID=232342.

Juvenile Offenders and Victims: 2006 National Report. (2006). OJJDP Report. Available at https://www.ojjdp.gov/ojstatbb/nr2006/.


Benjamin Adams
Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention
E-mail: Benjamin.Adams@ojp.usdoj.gov
(202) 6163687

Nicole Adolph
US Census Bureau
E-mail: Nicole.S.Adolph@census.gov
(301) 763-1571

Melissa Sickmund
National Center for Juvenile Justice
E-mail: msickmund@ncjfcj.org
(412) 227-6950
History and data analysis

Juvenile Justice Clearinghouse
E-mail: responsecenter@ncjrs.gov