Open Access Articles- Top Results for Massachusetts Department of Youth Services

Massachusetts Department of Youth Services

The Massachusetts Department of Youth Services (DYS) is a state agency of Massachusetts. Its Administrative Office is headquartered in 600 Washington Street Boston.[1] The agency operates the state's juvenile justice services.

The DYS regions are the Central, Metro, Northeastern, Southeastern, and Western regions.[2]

History and leadership

Massachusetts created the nation's first juvenile correctional system in 1846 with the opening of the Massachusetts State Reform School at Westborough, later known as Lyman School for Boys. In 1969 Governor Francis Sargent established the Department of Youth Services as a separate agency under the Executive Office of Health and Human Services.[3] Under the leadership of the new department's first commissioner, Jerome G. Miller, Massachusetts initiated a bold deinstitutionalization effort with the closure of Lyman School for Boys and the Massachusetts Industrial School for Boys at Shirley. The reforms initiated over forty years ago have proven to be sustainable and remain foundational to the state's juvenile justice system.[4]

DYS Commissioners

  • Jerome G. Miller, 1969-1973
  • Joseph Leavy, 1973-1976
  • John Calhoun, 1976-1979
  • Edward M. Murphy, 1979-1985
  • Edward J. Loughran, 1985-1993
  • William D. O'Leary, 1993-1997
  • Robert P. Gittens, 1997-2002
  • Michael Bolden, 2002-2005
  • Jane E. Tewksbury, 2005-2012
  • Edward Dolan, 2012–2013
  • Peter J. Forbes, 2013-present


DYS operates more than 80 total residential and community programs across Massachusetts, including:

  • 63 residential programs, ranging from staff secure group homes to small highly-secure locked units, and
  • 22 district offices to provide supervision and services to youth who live in the community (residing with a parent, guardian, foster parent or residing in an independent living program).

Continuum of Care

The Department has a dual mandate of rehabilitation and public safety. In keeping with these two objectives, DYS has a system of classifying committed youth according to their offense patterns and other pertinent history. This classification process informs a service delivery plan that places youths in appropriate levels of care according to our Continuum of Care.[5] The Continuum of Care includes:

  • Bail Detention
  • Assessment
  • Residential Treatment (Hardware Secure or Staff Secure)
  • Community Phase/ Day Reporting
  • Discharge

The Client Services unit oversees the delivery of a host of clinical and support services. Using an integrated approach, programs address the risk to re-offend by providing a variety of services, including the following:

  • Clinical Services
  • Medical and Health Services
  • Substance Abuse Services
  • Assessment and Classification
  • Revocation (the process by which a youth in the community is returned to residential programming)

DYS Treatment Programs & Services


The Massachusetts Department of Youth Services (DYS) provides clinical and rehabilitative services to its detained clients and committed youth based on the Comprehensive Strategy outlined by the Office of Juvenile Delinquency and Prevention.

DIALECTICAL BEHAVIOR THERAPY (DBT): This system of psychotherapy was adopted to fit the needs of the juvenile justice population by teaching youth skills from DBT skill modules (e.g., skills in emotion regulation and/or interpersonal effectiveness modules) that are basic fundamental skills underlying positive pro-social development. DBT is used as a behavior management tool in DYS to increase skill development in youth, improve relationships between youth and staff and create a positive pro-social learning environment. While DBT is not the only clinical treatment offered in DYS, it does serve as the structure for therapeutic work and for the behavior management system across all DYS programs in the Commonwealth.

POSITIVE YOUTH DEVELOPMENT: The Positive Youth Development model focuses on the positive attributes young people need to make a successful transition to adulthood. The Positive Youth Development framework revolves around the cognitive, emotional and social needs of a young person. A strong focus on three aspects of positive youth development will provide effective guidance for the goals and plans for each youth’s successful re-entry into the community. These include a focus on each youth’s strengths and personal assets, providing opportunities for youth empowerment and leadership, and cultivating community partnerships and supports that assist youth in moving successfully through the continuum of care. CLINICAL ASSESSMENTS: Upon commitment to DYS, youth are given a comprehensive assessment conducted by licensed mental health clinicians, licensed teachers and medical and psychiatric staff. Licensed mental health clinicians provide psychosocial interviews, administer psychological testing, and review prior records that include educational, medical and criminal histories. Screening instruments are used to determine if the youth needs to be referred for a comprehensive neuropsychological evaluation to aid in treatment planning. Following the assessment phase, an individual treatment and service plan is developed for the youth that focuses interventions on the youth’s strengths and risks factors for re-offending.

RESIDENTIAL SUPPORT: The clinical focus in the residential treatment programs is to rehabilitate the youth by preparing him or her to rejoin their community by teaching pro-social attitudes and behaviors. This is done through weekly individual counseling and participation in required group therapies which include: Dialectical Behavior Therapy (twice weekly); substance abuse groups (either prevention or substance abuse treatment groups); and violent offender/sex offender groups which focus on relapse prevention planning. Depending on the individual service needs of the youth, other treatments may be incorporated such as: family counseling, trauma work, teen dating violence prevention, and parenting skills classes for DYS youth with children of their own.

COMMUNITY CONTINUUM: As the DYS youth transitions from residential treatment to the community, the casework team (which includes licensed mental health clinicians) ensures that the youth and family are enrolled in community-based services to support the gains the youth has made in treatment.


Treatment Programs


Each residential program is designed to serve either detained youth or committed youth requiring short or long-term treatment. They include: • ALTERNATIVE LOCK-UP (ALPS) PROGRAMS: DYS gives oversight to five ALPS sites that provide beds for youth who are arrested overnight or during the weekend. ALPS provide a safe and secure placement to assist police departments in adhering to the laws involved in the detainment of juveniles. Clients are placed in an ALPS site until they are arraigned or can appear for their court date. • PRE-TRIAL DETENTION CENTERS/PROGRAMS: These programs primarily serve clients that have been charged with a criminal offense and are being held on bail awaiting court action. These programs may also serve juveniles who are committed and awaiting placement in another facility or program, or who are in the process of revocation from a community placement. • ASSESSMENT CENTERS/PROGRAMS: These programs are designed to further evaluate the needs of newly committed youth. DYS administers several risk/need assessments in the areas of mental health, substance abuse and educational testing. This information, as well as information about the juvenile’s family and any prior contact in the juvenile justice system or in the social service system and the youth’s offense history, helps inform our placement decision. The typical length of stay in an assessment program is 30-45 days. • SHORT-TERM TREATMENT PROGRAMS: These units serve newly committed youth and youth who are having difficulty adjusting in the community. An average length of stay is 90 days, but placement may be extended to 180 days. Services include education, clinical programming, behavior management, medical services and recreation. Treatment services focus on crisis prevention, violence prevention and family counseling. They may also be offense specific such as sex offender treatment or drug and alcohol abuse services. • LONG-TERM SECURE TREATMENT PROGRAMS: The Department’s assessment may determine that the most appropriate placement for supervision and treatment is a long-term program. The average length of stay is eight to twelve months. Services include education, clinical programming, behavior management, medical services and recreational opportunities. Treatment services focus on providing youth access to positive opportunities in order to reduce recidivism and prevent violence. Treatment may also be offense-specific such as sex offender treatment or drug and alcohol treatment services. • STABILITIZATION UNIT: DYS also operates a 10-bed Stabilization Unit within the Westfield Youth Service Center designed to provide services to youth, from all five Department Regions, who have displayed difficulty engaging in and complying with the milieus of their respective secure programs. The goal is to provide a successful transition back to residents’ respective programs. For youth who are leaving DYS residential facilities and whose homes are unsafe or unstable, the following services are provided: • TRANSITIONAL LIVING PROGRAMS: These programs offer support and structure for DYS clients who have either matriculated from a residential program, do not require the highly structured environment of a residential program or lack a viable housing option to return to in the community. Many of the youth served in this type of setting are older and working in the community • FOSTER CARE: Through the Massachusetts Department of Children and Families, foster care is provided to a limited number of youth who are less criminally involved and do not have a viable home to return to. Foster care services are also used for low-risk youth on bail status as part of the Department’s Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative (JDAI).

Closed facilities:

  • Lyman School for Boys
  • Phaneuf Youth Treatment Brockton
  • Bishop Ruocco Girls Youth Treatment Lakeville


The Massachusetts Department of Youth Services provide youth who transition back in the community with services to engage and support them and their families in a successful transition. Approximately 60% of youth who are committed to DYS are supervised in the community. Youth placed in the community are provided case management, community supervision and a range of community-based services including counseling, education, training, job placement, family intervention services, substance abuse prevention and treatment services and access to community health and recreational opportunities. Additionally, if youth are having difficulty adjusting and begin to engage in risky behavior in the community, DYS can intervene. If a youth’s behavior includes further delinquent activity, a formal revocation hearing and return to custody may occur.

• COMMUNITY RE-ENTRY: DYS takes a proactive role in community crime prevention. Crime prevention and public safety require collaboration with communities, civic and religious organizations, health centers, educational institutions, neighborhood police and law enforcement gang task forces. As part of the community casework service delivery model, prior to release from secure and residential programs, staff reviews youth progress every 90, 60 and 30-days. This pre-release review allows for a careful balancing of DYS’ dual-mission to protect public safety through the rehabilitation of the youth committed to its care and custody.

• CASEWORK MODEL: DYS utilizes a Casework Reference Guide which outlines its service delivery model for youth in the community. The community reentry plan focuses on connecting youth returning to the community with education and vocational services, job readiness training, behavioral health and medical services. Caseworkers are actively engaged in ensuring that their clients form healthy relationships with caring adults and find safe places in communities where they can succeed.

• CASE MANAGEMENT: A caseworker is assigned to each youth at the time the youth is committed to DYS. Caseworkers are responsible for preparing comprehensive case histories, developing individualized treatment plans, scheduling and conducting periodic case conferences, making appropriate referrals to residential and non-residential programs, monitoring client progress in programs and in the community, as well as serving as the primary DYS resource for youths and their families. Additionally, caseworkers must maintain a presence in the courts. The average caseload for caseworkers is 12-15 youth. • COMMUNITY LOCATIONS: DYS operates 26 District and Satellite Offices across the Commonwealth. Community District Offices are strategically located in cities and towns with the highest concentrations of at-risk-youth detained at or committed to DYS to provide supervision and support to the community.

• ELECTRONIC MONITORING: Some youth placed at home are supervised through electronic bracelets and/or telecommunication surveillance technology (GPS).


  1. ^ "Contact Numbers for Central and Regional Offices." Massachusetts Department of Youth Services. Retrieved on August 23, 2010.
  2. ^ "DEPARTMENT OF YOUTH SERVICES REGIONS." Massachusetts Department of Youth Services. Retrieved on August 23, 2010.
  3. ^ Department of Youth Services history Retrieved on February 26, 2013
  4. ^ Rediscovering the Juvenile Justice Ideal in the United States Retrieved on February 26, 2013
  5. ^

External links

See also