Dept. of Youth Services Administration

  • Description
  • Funding History
  • Proposals

The Department of Youth Services (DYS) is charged with the detention, custody, diagnosis, care, and training of delinquent juvenile offenders. The Department has a dual mandate of rehabilitation and public safety providing delinquency prevention and positive opportunities while promoting the acquisition of pro-social skills.

DYS employs a continuum of care to best meet the needs of youth in custody. Within the first 30–45 days, a comprehensive assessment looks at past offenses and the current situation to determine the most appropriate placement and services needed. Placement options include locked facilities, secure but less prohibitive facilities, community based programs, and placement with foster or biological families. Youth unsuccessful in a community based program can be subject to revocation – which is the process of returning youth to residential programming.

Many types of services are also provided to youth including clinical, medical and health, substance abuse, violence prevention, and others. Specific areas of counseling are offered in the following areas: anger management, substance abuse, behavior therapy, pro-social skill groups, teen dating violence prevention, employment readiness and parenting skills. DYS collaborates with youth, families, communities, government and other provider agencies to provide effective treatment and skill development services to youth in DYS custody. DYS has adopted a Positive Youth Development (PYD) framework to prevent juvenile crime by building youth capacity. The PYD framework outlines the supports young people need in order to be successful and focuses on youths’ strengths instead of their risk factors. The five key supports identified by PYD are 1) caring adults, 2) safe places, 3) a healthy start and healthy development, 4) an effective education, and 5) opportunities to help others through service.

DYS also runs a victim services unit which works with the victims of juvenile crime to address their needs, provide support and information about the process, and to provide assistance accessing referrals. The unit informs victims of their rights and also notifies victims of a change in status. Victims are notified if the offender is released, transferred, escapes custody or a number of other status changes which affects the case. DYS works closely with county District Attorney Offices, the Department of Corrections, Sheriffs Department and other agencies in order to be sensitive and responsive to victim's concerns.

From 2001 to the beginning of 2013, the population of committed juveniles in Massachusetts dropped from 3,261 to 836. That drop continued through 2013 with only 717 juveniles committed on January 1, 2014.

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