Families are the backbone of the youth which the system is trying to serve. The Department aims to encourage information for families, support engagement during treatment, and for families to have a voice in shaping their youth's progress.  Encouraging and incorporating family involvement at every step is important to improve outcomes for youth in DYS.

Resources for families:

Navigating systems

  • Parent Professional Advocacy League - The Massachusetts Voice for Children's Mental Health PPAL has many resources to support system involved families and youth. PPAL encourage families to be active participants in their child's care and to be prepared to advocate for their children. More information on resources in your area can be found at http://ppal.net/find-help/statewide-resources
  • Community Behavioral Health Initiative (CBHI). CBHI's mission is to strengthen, expand and integrate Massachusetts state services into a comprehensive, community-based system of care, to ensure that families and their children with significant behavioral, emotional and mental health needs obtain the services necessary for success in home, school and community.

Juvenile Detention

If your child has been detained at the Department of Youth Services, you likely have a lot of questions about what will happen next. Your child's lawyer should be a good resource for you. In addition, some general information about juvenile detention can be found in our brochure Information for Parents/Guardians of youth who are newly detained  pdf format of Information for Parents of youth who are newly detained
doc format of                             Information for Parents of youth who are newly detained                .

Legal Issues

Legal issues about a particular case should be directed to the youth’s lawyer. If you do not have a lawyer, or your case has not yet gone to court, contact the Massachusetts juvenile public defender agency, the Youth Advocacy Division (YAD) at the agency office nearest to you. Office locations can be found at https://www.publiccounsel.net/ya/public-resources/

Some general information about the juvenile justice process can be found below:

School Issues

The EdLaw Project provides comprehensive legal representation in the following areas: special education and related matters, school discipline (suspension / expulsion / felony complaint exclusion), obtaining educational services while in DYS or a correctional facility, rights of homeless students and other educational advocacy areas. Legal representation is generally provided at the school level but in appropriate circumstances our attorneys represent students at the administrative and court levels. Resources can be located at https://www.publiccounsel.net/edlaw/public/

The EdLaw Project maintains a statewide intake and request for assistance line for child welfare attorneys, delinquency attorneys, youth workers, parents, and students. 

Children’s Law Center of Massachusetts provides community education materials which cover many education and special education topics. These can be found at http://www.clcm.org/publications.html

Massachusetts Advocates for Children provides a voice on issues of equal education for all children. http://massadvocates.org/


This information is provided by the Department of Youth Services.