Residential Services for Committed Population

  • Description
  • Funding History
  • Proposals

Residential Services for Committed Population funds facilities and residential programs for Department of Youth Services (DYS) committed youth not living in the community. Facilities range from fully locked and secure facilities which severely restrict client movement to independent living programs for youth reintegrating into the community.

DYS and its community partners operate a range of programs for committed youth. More secure programs include facilities which have locked perimeter doors, locked bedroom doors, locked and screened windows and restricted client movement. Other facilities are a little less restrictive and may have locked perimeter doors and windows, but have unlocked dormitory style bedrooms and physically less restrictive program areas. The most secure placement is the Juvenile unit within the adult county prison system located at the Plymouth County Correctional Facility. Juveniles who have been charged with or convicted of murder and juveniles who face adult sentences are held in this facility.

Besides varying by security, programs also vary by function and services offered. Assessment programs are designed to evaluate the needs of newly committed youth. During the typical length of stay of 30–45 days, DYS administers several risk/need assessments to inform a placement decision.

Short term treatment programs serve newly committed youth and youth who have been returned to a residential facility after struggling in the community. Youth who need a greater degree of supervision are served in long term secure treatment programs. Both short and long term programs offer services in education, job training, clinical programming, behavior management, medical services and recreational opportunities, as well as offense specific services such as sex offender treatment or drug and alcohol treatment services. Programs aim to prevent future crime and violence by emphasizing development of new skills to support positive behaviors. Youth must meet behavioral goals and they graduate to a less restrictive placement when they have acknowledged the delinquent behavior, understand what lead up to the offense and have a plan in place to avoid future criminal actions.

A limited number of committed youth stay in foster care. Youth are placed in foster care if they do not have a viable home to return to and are less criminally involved. Lastly, transitional living programs offer support for youth who do not need a highly structured environment and who also lack a viable housing option in the community. Most of the youth in this setting are older and working in the community.

The Education, Job Training and Employment Services Unit works in partnership with local schools, colleges, the Department of Education, families, business and communities to provide DYS youth with opportunities in education and employment readiness. Services are designed to ease transitions of youth into the community and into public school, alternative education, GED preparation, post-secondary education, job skills training or entry-level employment.

The number of kids committed to DYS has been steadily declining over the last 15 years dropping 79 percent from 3,151 in January 2000 to 675 in January 2015. Just under 40 percent of the kids committed to DYS are involved with the Department of Children and Families, the primary child welfare agency in Massachusetts.

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