Department of Youth Services (DYS)

Information about who DYS serves and the services provided to youth and their families.

The Department of Youth Services (DYS) is the juvenile justice agency in Massachusetts.  DYS helps youth in its care make positive changes in their lives.  Their mission is to make communities safer by improving outcomes for youth.  DYS does this by working with youth, families, and communities and using a wide range of services to support the youth in their care. 

Who DYS Serves

DYS serves children and youth who have been detained or committed to DYS by the courts. Detained youth are those who have been arrested and charged with an offense, and are temporarily placed with DYS until their next court date.  Committed youth are those who have been found guilty of a crime, have received a sentence, and are ordered into the custody of DYS.  DYS also serves the families of youth in their custody or care.

DYS serves children and youth in different age groups depending on the child’s circumstances:

  • DYS serves children and youth 7-18 years old who are detained or committed on a delinquency matter.  Delinquency matters are often similar to misdemeanors in the adult court system.
  • Youth 14-21 years old who are detained or committed on a youthful offender matter.  Youthful offenders are those charged with felonies and some firearms charges.
  • Youth 14-18 who are facing murder charges or who are serving adult sentences. 

Services for Youth and Families

Services for DYS-involved youth

DYS provides different types of placements for detained and committed youth, including secure residential facilities and foster care.  DYS offers educational, medical, and clinical services for youth.  Detained youth placed in secure facilities also receive Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) twice a week.  Committed youth receive a comprehensive assessment and an individual treatment plan while in DYS custody.  Once a youth is placed back in their community, DYS caseworkers provide ongoing support and supervision. 

Services for DYS-involved families

DYS has partnered with the Parent Professional Advocacy League (PPAL) to provide resources to families and encourage them to be an active part of their child’s care.  PPAL also hears complaints from families and works with families and DYS to resolve problems. 

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