Overview

The Department of Youth Services (DYS) serves youth committed to its care (detained) or committed to its physical custody by the juvenile courts in delinquency and youthful offender matters. DYS never has legal custody of youth. The mission of DYS is to make communities safer by improving the life outcomes for youth in its care and custody. DYS achieves its mission through investing in highly qualified staff and a service continuum that engages youth, families and communities in strategies that support positive youth development.

DYS maintains files on each youth who enters its care or custody. These files also contain records obtained from other sources. Access to DYS records is governed by statute (G.L. c. 120, §21), regulation (109 CMR 3.00, et seq) and policy (01.07.02, Confidentiality of Client Records and 01.03.01 Compulsory Legal Process).[2]

Any person, agency or entity providing services to DYS youth may have access to the records of those being served by submitting a request in writing to the Keeper of the Records, accompanied by authorization from the youth and the youth’s legal guardian, if the youth is under 18 at the time of the request. 109 CMR 3.04(4).

DYS shares oral information with any criminal justice agency (including Probation), state human services agencies (including DCF), local education authorities, and Juvenile Court Clinicians.

DYS provides written information to entities who have a contract with DYS to provide services and state human services agencies. Other entities or agencies requesting written information must provide DYS with a release from the youth and guardian or can obtain written information subject to written authorization from the Commissioner of DYS, designee or Keeper of the Records. G.L. c. 120, §21, 109 CMR 3.04, DYS Policy 01.07.02.

When can DYS personnel disclose information to Probation Officers?

Probation Officers may obtain a copy of a youth’s records by submitting a written request to the DYS Keeper of the Records stating the reason for the request and what authority DYS has to release the records. 109 CMR 3.04(5). Where information is sought through a court order, the youth must be reasonably notified so that the youth may ask the court not to allow Probation to have access to the youth's files. 109 CMR 3.05, DYS Policy 01.03.01.

Probation is entitled to DYS records concerning “prisoners under sentence or who have been released.” G.L. c. 276, §100. When Probation is preparing a pre-sentence report for the court, Probation may have access to a youth’s records after submitting a written request and a copy of any order to the Keeper of the Records. 109 CMR 3.04(7). DYS shares oral information with any criminal justice agency including Probation. DYS provides written information with a release from the youth and guardian or written authorization from the Commissioner, designee or Keeper of the Records. DYS Policy 01.07.02. 

When can DYS personnel disclose information to DCF?

If DCF is the youth's legal custodian, DYS will disclose the same information to DCF that would be available to any legal guardian.

Where DCF is not the youth's legal custodian but is providing services to DYS youth, DCF may have access to youth records by submitting a request in writing to the Keeper of the Records, accompanied by authorization from the youth and the youth’s legal guardian, if the youth is under 18 at the time of the request. 109 CMR 3.04(4).

Where information is sought through a court order, the youth must be reasonably notified so that the youth may ask the court not to allow DCF to have access to the youth's files. 109 CMR 3.04(6), 109 CMR 3.05, DYS Policy 01.03.01.

Also, DCF may obtain a copy of a youth’s records by submitting a written request to the DYS Keeper of the Records that sets forth the reason for the request and what authority DYS has to release the records requested. G.L. c. 119, §51B, 109 CMR 3.04(5).

DYS shall disclose information to DCF in accordance with §§51A and 51B of G.L. c. 119Section 51A requires mandated reporters (including DYS) to report cases of suspected child abuse or neglect to DCF.  Section 51B requires mandated reporters to disclose to DCF upon request, any information that may be relevant to an investigation of a case of suspected abuse or neglect. G.L. c. 119, §§51A and 51B.

DYS shares oral information with any state human services agency, and written information with a release from the youth and guardian or written authorization from the Commissioner, designee or Keeper of the Records. DYS Policy 01.07.02.

When can DYS personnel disclose information to school personnel?

School personnel providing services to DYS youth may have access to the records by submitting a request in writing to the Keeper of the Records, accompanied by authorization from the youth and the youth’s legal guardian, if the youth is under 18 at the time of the request. 109 CMR 3.04(4). Additionally, a school can obtain a court order. 109 CMR 3.04(6). Where information is sought through a court order, the youth must be reasonably notified so that they may ask the court not to allow the school to have access to their files. 109 CMR 3.04(6), 109 CMR 3.05, DYS Policy 01.03.01.

DYS shares oral information with any local educational authorities, and written information with a release from the youth and guardian or written authorization from the Commissioner, designee or Keeper of the Records. DYS Policy 01.07.02.   

When can DYS personnel disclose information to Juvenile Court Investigators?

Juvenile Court Investigators appointed on a case involving a DYS youth may have access to the youth's records by submitting a request in writing to the Keeper of the Records, accompanied by authorization from the youth and the youth’s legal guardian, if the youth is under 18 at the time of the request. 109 CMR 3.04(4). Juvenile Court Investigators who present a court order may obtain a youth’s records. 109 CMR 3.05. Where information is sought through a court order, the youth must be reasonably notified so that the youth may ask the court not to allow the Juvenile Court Investigator to have access to the youth's files. 109 CMR 3.04(6), 109 CMR 3.05, DYS Policy 01.03.01.

When can DYS personnel disclose information to Juvenile Court Clinicians?

If the Juvenile Court Clinician is providing services to a DYS youth they may have access to the youth’s DYS records by submitting a request in writing to the Keeper of the Records, accompanied by authorization from the youth and the youth’s legal guardian, if the youth is under 18 at the time of the request. 109 CMR 3.04(4). Additionally, the Juvenile Court Clinician serving the youth may obtain a youth’s records with a court order. 109 CMR 3.05.  Where information is sought through a court order, the youth must be reasonably notified so that the youth may ask the court not to allow the Juvenile Court Clinician to have access to the youth's own files. 109 CMR 3.04(6), 109 CMR 3.05, DYS Policy 01.03.01.

DYS shares oral information with Juvenile Court Clinicians, and written information with a release from the youth and guardian or written authorization from the Commissioner, designee or Keeper of the Records. DYS Policy 01.07.02.

When can DYS disclose information to a child or young adult’s Care & Protection or CRA attorney?

DYS can disclose information to a child or young adult’s Care and Protection attorney with a court order or release authorized by the youth. 109 CMR 3.04(3), DYS Policy 01.07.02. Where information is sought through a court order, the youth must be reasonably notified so that the youth may ask the court not to allow the Care and Protection attorney for the youth to have access to the youth's files. 109 CMR 3.04(6), 109 CMR 3.05, DYS Policy 01.03.01.

When can DYS personnel disclose information to a parent’s attorney?

DYS can disclose information to a parent’s attorney with a court order or release authorized by the youth and the youth’s legal guardian, if the youth is under the age of 18 at the time of the request. 109 CMR 3.04, DYS Policy 01.07.02. Where information is sought through a court order, the youth must be reasonably notified so that the youth may ask the court not to allow the parent's attorney to have access to the youth's files. 109 CMR 3.05, DYS Policy 01.03.01.

When can DYS disclose information to a child's delinquency or young adult’s criminal attorney?

DYS can disclose information to a child's delinquency attorney or young adult’s criminal law attorney with a court order or release authorized by the youth or young adult. 109 CMR 3.04(2), DYS Policy 01.07.02. Where information is sought through a court order, the client must be reasonably notified so that the youth or young adult may ask the court not to allow the attorney to have access to the files of the youth or young adult. 109 CMR 3.05, DYS Policy 01.03.01.

When can DYS personnel disclose information to a GAL or CASA?

The GAL or CASA appointed for a DYS youth may have access to the records with a court order or by submitting a request in writing to the Keeper of the Records, accompanied by authorization from the youth and the youth’s legal guardian, if the youth is under 18 at the time of the request. 109 CMR 3.04(4). Where information is sought through a court order, the youth must be reasonably notified so that the youth may ask the court not to allow the GAL or CASA to have access to the youth's files. 109 CMR 3.05, DYS Policy 01.03.01.

When can DYS personnel disclose information to police and prosecutors?

DYS shares oral information with any law enforcement agency, and written information with a release from the youth and guardian or written authorization from the Commissioner, designee or Keeper of the Records. G.L. c 120, §21, 109 CMR 3.04(8), DYS Policy 01.07.02. Law enforcement and prosecutors may obtain a copy of a youth’s records with a court order or by submitting a written request to the DYS Keeper of the Records stating the reason for the request and what authority DYS has to release the records. 109 CMR 3.04(5). Where information is sought through a court order, the client must be reasonably notified so that the youth may ask the court not to allow law enforcement or prosecutors to have access to the youth's files. 109 CMR 3.04(6), 109 CMR 3.05, DYS Policy 01.03.01.

Law enforcement agencies, including district attorney offices, may have access to portions of youth records where the information is related to the investigation of a crime. 109 CMR 3.04(8). DYS also shares information with law enforcement about specific threats to other persons. 

For youth committed to DYS for certain serious crimes, DYS must notify the police in the town where the youth lives and the town where the offense occurred at least 7 days prior to a youth’s release. G.L. c. 120, §12.

When can DYS personnel disclose confidential information to victims?

A victim of crime, witness, or family member of a victim who is deceased, may obtain all available criminal offender record information of the person accused or convicted of the crime. DYS may also disclose to such persons additional information, including, but not limited to, evaluative information, as DYS determines is reasonably necessary for the security and well-being of the victim, witness or family member of the victim who is deceased. G.L. c. 6, §178A.

Victims of crimes are notified by the DA’s offices of their right to request a victim certification under the Victims’ Rights Law. If certified by the Criminal History Systems Board, the victim can request that DYS notify them when a committed youth receives temporary, provisional or final release from custody. Victims are also notified of movement in the following circumstances: from a secure to a less secure facility, transfer to higher security, transfers to the house of corrections or state prison, escapes, parole (GCL) violations, return to custody, court-ordered release, and discharge. G.L. c. 258B, §3(t).

Disclosure as part of the Community Based Juvenile Justice Programs

When can DYS personnel disclose confidential information as part of the Community Based Juvenile Justice Programs?

DYS is an invited participant to the Community Based Juvenile Justice Programs (roundtables) pursuant to G.L. c. 12, §32. Although the CBJ statute expressly speaks to agency collaboration with the District Attorney’s office, the statute does not independently authorize DYS to release confidential information beyond the limits outlined in this section.

DYS Policy 01.07.02 dictates that DYS shall share oral information with state human services agencies, any law enforcement agency, and local educational authorities, and shall share written information with a release from the youth and guardian or written authorization from the Commissioner, designee or Keeper of the Records. 

When can DYS disclose information to the Office of the Child Advocate (OCA)?

The OCA has unrestricted access to all electronic records, reports, and materials of DYS in order to better understand the needs of children in the custody of the Commonwealth or who are receiving services from DYS.  G.L. c. 18C, §6.  Additionally, DYS is required to inform OCA of certain “critical incidents.” G.L. c. 18C, §1. Critical incidents are defined as “(i) a fatality, near fatality or serious bodily or emotional injury of a child who is in the custody of or receiving services from an executive agency or a constituent agency; or (ii) circumstances which result in a reasonable belief that an executive agency or a constituent agency failed in its duty to protect a child and, as a result, the child was at imminent risk of, or suffered serious bodily or emotional injury or death.”  The OCA is bound by any limitations on the use or release of information imposed by law upon the party furnishing such information. 

Footnotes

[2] The DYS regulation has recently been amended and the policies governing access to confidential information are currently subject to revision to ensure compliance with the amended regulation as well as state and federal law.

Feedback

Did you find what you were looking for on this webpage? * required
We use your feedback to help us improve this site but we are not able to respond directly. Please do not include personal or contact information. If you need a response, please locate the contact information elsewhere on this page or in the footer.
We use your feedback to help us improve this site but we are not able to respond directly. Please do not include personal or contact information. If you need a response, please locate the contact information elsewhere on this page or in the footer.

If you need to report child abuse, any other kind of abuse, or need urgent assistance, please click here.

Feedback