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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 1
    • DYS Commissioners 1.1
  • Overview 2
  • Continuum of Care 3
  • Clinical Services 4
  • Facilities 5
  • References 6
  • External links 7
  • See also 8

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 88 programs including:

  • 60 facilities, ranging from staff secure group homes to small highly secure locked units, and
  • 28 programs to service 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)

Clinical Services

Upon commitment to DYS (within the first 30 to 45 days), youth receive a comprehensive assessment that assimilates the family involvement, educational history, prior criminal record, presence or absence of substance abuse, medical and psychiatric history, and review of risk factors related to offending. Following the assessment phase, an individual treatment and service plan is developed and the youth is assigned placement in a residential or community based setting.

The clinical focus in the secure treatment residential programs is to rehabilitate the youth by preparing him or her to rejoin their community by teaching pro-social attitudes and behaviors through a cognitive behavioral approach. Youth participate in clinical interventions that emphasize the learning of new skills to ameliorate risk factors and to support acquisition of positive behaviors. Their treatment is monitored by criteria driven behavioral goals. The youth graduates from the program when he/she has acknowledged his/her criminal behaviors, has an understanding of what lead up to their offending, has developed a relapse plan to avoid future criminal actions, and has demonstrated a pattern of consistent pro-social behaviors in confinement.

In addition to secure treatment facilities, the Department has several community residential programs, all of which provide clinical and educational services that emphasize accountability and pro-social skill development. These residential programs vary in length and in treatment specialty focus. For instance, some residential programs focus more on substance abuse issues, whereas some of the 766 programs offer more remedial educational services. However, all residential programs are consistent in using a cognitive behavioral approach, which emphasizes planning for community re-entry.

When the youth returns to the community, clinical services are provided through the day reporting and neighborhood centers. Services provided vary in the different sites but many offer counseling in the following areas: anger management, substance abuse, Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT), pro-social skill groups, teen dating violence prevention, and parenting skills. When a youth needs counseling services that are not offered through their DYS community site, these services are provided by community mental health centers funded by the Commonwealth and third party insurance coverage. (


Juveniles charged with murder and juveniles with adult sentences are held within a DYS-operated facility inside the Massachusetts Department of Corrections' Plymouth County Correctional Facility,[6]

Juvenile secure units:

  • Plymouth Juvenile Secure Unit[7]
  • Robert F. Kennedy School (Westborough)[8] - The school is the most secure juvenile facility in the state.[9] Operated by the Robert F. Kennedy Children’s Action Corps, Inc., the center was the first Massachusetts juvenile correctional facility operated by a private provider.[10]
  • Fay A. Rotenberg School (Westborough) - The Rotenberg School is a secure juvenile treatment center for girls. It is operated by the Robert F. Kennedy Children’s Action Corps, Inc.[10]
  • Springfield Secure Treatment Program (Springfield)[11]
  • Goss Secure (Taunton)
  • Pelletier Assessment(Westborough)

Male Staff Secure Units:

  • Douglass (New Bedford)
  • Teamworks (Plymouth)

Female Staff Secure Units:

  • RFK South Hadley Girls Treatment Program (South Hadley)[12]
  • Adira Academy Treatment Program (Brockton, MA)

Youth service centers:

  • Metro Youth Service Center (MYSC) (Dorchester, Boston)
    • Construction was scheduled to be completed in the fiscal year 2000[13]

Reception and detention centers:[14]

  • Judge John J. Connelly Youth Center (Boston)[15]
  • Spectrum Girls Detention (Dorchester, MA)
  • Brockton Girls Detention (Brockton, MA)
  • Westfield Detention Center (Westfield)
  • Worcester Detention Center (Worcester)
  • Howland Detention Center (Taunton)

Closed facilities:

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


  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. ^
  6. ^ "Department of Youth Services Public Information Packet." Massachusetts Department of Youth Services. 3 (3/14). 2010. Retrieved on August 23, 2010.
  7. ^ "Plymouth Juvenile Secure Unit - Department of Youth Services (05320048)." Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. Retrieved on August 23, 2010.
  8. ^ Kocian, Lisa. "Jail break." Boston Globe. May 15, 2008. 1. Retrieved on August 23, 2010.
  9. ^ Kocian, Lisa. "Jail break." Boston Globe. May 15, 2008. 2. Retrieved on August 23, 2010.
  10. ^ a b "Westborough." Robert F. Kennedy Children’s Action Corps, Inc. Retrieved on August 23, 2010.
  11. ^ "Springfield Secure Treatment Program." Robert F. Kennedy Children’s Action Corps, Inc. Retrieved on August 23, 2010.
  12. ^ "South Hadley Girls Treatment Program." Robert F. Kennedy Children’s Action Corps, Inc. Retrieved on August 23, 2010.
  13. ^ "Capital Outlay." Government of Massachusetts. Retrieved on August 23, 2010.
  14. ^ "Chapter 18A: Section 5. Bureau of clinical services; duties; detention centers; assistant commissioner." Government of Massachusetts. Retrieved on August 23, 2010.
  15. ^ "Judge John J. Connelly Youth Center." Harvard University. Retrieved on August 23, 2010.

External links

  • Massachusetts Department of Youth Services
  • Behn, Robert D. "Closing the Massachusetts public training schools." Duke University.
  • Krisberg, Barry A., Reforming Juvenile Justice Retrieved on February 26, 2013

See also

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