Last September, former Commissioner Jane E. Tewksbury of the Department of Youth Services (DYS) requested that The Child Advocate conduct an objective and external review of the policy and practice of DYS regarding client passes. The OCA has completed its review of the DYS client pass policy and recommends continued use of client passes to transition you into the community with positive supports in place. As youth near their discharge dates from DYS commitment, passes are used to foster connections to family, school, work, and positive recreational activities. Public safety is of paramount importance, however, and improvements should be made to strengthen pass policy and practice within DYS. The OCA recommends revisions to DYS client pass policy and practice to improve communication, training, and safeguards.

Recommendations

  • DYS should continue transitioning youth into the community with positive supports in place through the use of passes.
  • DYS should revise its written pass policy to promote safe and effective practice. Concerns addressed in the report regarding scripting, documentation, communication, and training should be addressed by DYS in revision of the pass policy. The policy should include safeguards to ensure that community partners receive training and acknowledge in writing their obligations before they supervise DYS-committed youth in the community.
  • DYS should develop and conduct trainings on supervision of DYS-committed youth in the community for its own staff, contracted staff, and community partners.
  • DYS should develop performance review standards relating to pass practice to ensure that adherence to policy is monitored on an ongoing basis.

The OCA remains available to consult with DYS as the agency develops and implements the recommended changes.