Office of Children, Youth and Family Programs

Programs under the Office of Children, Youth and Family (CYF)

Safe and Successful Youth Initiative

SSYI is a comprehensive, interagency strategy that connects law enforcement, employment, education, public health and youth development agencies to reduce youth violence in the Commonwealth. SSYI requires the implementation of a coordinated intervention strategy focused on “proven risk youth”, young men (age 14-24) identified by each city as the highest risk individuals for being perpetrators or victims of violence, and their families.  SSYI-supported programs have served over 1,000 young people, connecting them with education and employment opportunities that help them achieve success. There have been significant reductions in victimization due to violent crime, homicide, and average aggravated assault. SSYI serves Boston, Brockton, Chelsea, Fall River, Holyoke, Lawrence, Lowell, Lynn, New Bedford, Springfield and Worcester

Homeless Youth Services

The Commonwealth of Massachusetts is deeply committed to preventing and ending youth and young adult homelessness. Homeless Youth Services, within the EOHHS Office of Children Youth and Families, leads the statewide effort of working towards a future where experiences of youth homelessness in Massachusetts are rare, brief, and non-recurring, and where every youth and young (YYA) adult is safe, supported, and able to use their strengths fully. Funding from Homeless Youth Services ensures that every region in Massachusetts has both prevention and intervention services specifically for young adults, including emergency shelter or crisis housing.

Families and Children Requiring Assistance Advisory Board

In November 2012, Chapter 240 of the Acts of 2012 entitled “AN ACT REGARDING FAMILIES AND CHILDREN ENGAGED IN SERVICES” became effective. This legislation takes comprehensive steps to reform the Child in Need of Services (CHINS) system which had served “status offenders.” Children serviced by the new legislation include runaways, truants, children having serious problems at home and in school, or children who are the victim of commercial sexual exploitation. Chapter 240 now refers to children involved with these issues as “Children Requiring Assistance.” Chapter 240 appoints an advisory board to advise EOHHS and the court regarding implementation of the law.


Mass 2-1-1: Information and Referral Resource for Families and Children Requiring Assistance

Mass 2-1-1 is an information and referral service for children, youth and families offered by the Executive Office of Health and Human Services (EOHHS). This service is available to all families across the Commonwealth, including families and children requiring assistance who have been referred by the juvenile court. Families can simply dial 211 from any phone and be connected to a trained information and referral specialist, anytime of the day or night. Below are links for a Mass211 brochure.

Family Resource Centers

Family Resource Centers are community-based, culturally competent programs that provide evidence-based parent education groups, information and referral, mentoring, and other opportunities for children and families. Family Resource Centers also provide services specific to children who are having serious problems at home and at school, including runaways, truants, and sexually exploited children, as required by Chapter 240 of the Acts of 2012.  EOHHS and DCF are procuring at least18 sites across the Commonwealth to establish Family Resource Centers.

Massachusetts Young Children’s Health Interventions for Learning and Development (MYCHILD)

MYCHILD is a collaboration of families, health centers, and child serving agencies. In partnership with 3 Pediatric medical homes & HealthCare for the Homeless, MYCHILD aims to identify young children (birth-1st grade) with significant behavioral and emotional needs and provide them with individualized, coordinated and comprehensive services. MYCHILD also aims to build the capacity of pediatric medical homes and community-based organizations to support young children with social and emotional needs through individual consultation and group trainings.

The MYCHILD goals are:

  • Early identification & linkage to effective services and supports for children with a serious emotional disturbance (SED) or are at imminent-risk of SED
  • Culturally and linguistically competent support and linkage of children and families to accessible, affordable, coordinated services
  • Expansion of service capacity to provide community based mental health clinical and consultation services in children’s natural environments
  • Cross training of early childhood and family support workforces to recognize and respond to Infant and Early relationship-based tools and practices
  • Evaluation of outcomes for continuous improvement, and identification of the return on investment of early intervention and treatment

Statewide Trauma Network

Building upon the accomplishments of the highly successful Boston Defending Childhood Initiative and a variety of other efforts now underway in Massachusetts to identify, this will assess and effectively intervene with children and youth affected by violence and trauma. The goals of the Massachusetts DCI State Policy Initiative are:

  • Collaboration to develop a trauma-informed Family Resource Center (FRC) system,
  • Improved screening, assessment and referral
  • Use of evidence-based and trauma-informed practices, and
  • Funding and sustainability coordination

Massachusetts Marijuana Law (2008 Ballot Question 2) Community Service Program

On November 4, 2008, the voters passed Ballot Question 2, “An Act Establishing a Sensible State Marijuana Policy”, commonly known as Question 2.  The new law became effective on January 2, 2009. A youth who is under the age of 18 and has been found in possession of one ounce or less of marijuana and charged with a civil offense is subject to a $100 civil penalty and forfeiture of the contraband. In addition, within one year of the date of the offense listed on the citation, the youth must complete a drug awareness program that includes (1) four hours of classroom instruction or group discussion (classroom instruction requirement), and  (2) ten hours of community service (community service requirement).Below are links for a guide to Massachusetts Marijuana Law (2008 Ballot Question 2) Community Service Program and the Question 2 Community Services form.


Children Awaiting Resolution and Disposition (CARD)

Pursuant to Chapter 321 “An Act Relative to Children’s Mental Health” EOHHS provides the following reports:

  • Beds and Boarding Report
  • Total Children by Fiscal Year Remaining on Children Awaiting Resolution and Disposition
  • Transitional Care Report
  • Point in Time Count of DMH Contracted Residential, Therapeutic Foster care, Inpatient and Intensive Residential Treatment Program Beds
  • Department of Children and Families (DCF) Congregate Care Census
  • DCF Intensive Foster care (IFC)Homes with No Placements


Governor’s Statewide Youth Council

In response to a 2008 outbreak of youth-related violence in the Greater Boston area and in order to incorporate youth voices into the policy-making process, Governor Patrick created the Governor's Statewide Youth Council. Since that time, the Youth Council's mission has been to advise the Governor in making decisions and setting policy to improve the lives of young people throughout the Commonwealth.

Domestic Violence Prevention and Intervention

A number of EOHHS agencies receive funding to provide sexual and domestic violence services and provide guidance on violence prevention and intervention policies and practice.  In addition, both the Department of Children and Families and the Department of Transitional Assistance each have statewide domestic violence units whose role is to help victims and their children access supports and plan for safety as needed. As the co-chair of the Governor’s Council on Sexual and Domestic Violence, the Secretary identified the need for leadership at EOHHS in coordinating prevention and intervention strategies across all EOHHS agencies.  Coordination includes collaborating across secretariats, and developing consistent practice and policy that improves prevention and intervention strategies that are based on evidence informed practice, cross-agency coordination, leveraging community assets and are survivor centered.

Unified Planning Teams

On 8/20/08, the Governor signed into law Chapter 321, known as the “Children’s Mental Health Bill.” Among the legislations provisions is a requirement in Section 16R for EOHHS to conduct geographically-based interagency review teams to collaborate on complex cases. In response to this requirement, EOHHS, the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education and the Department of Early Education and Care promulgated regulations (101 CMR 17.00) related to “Unified Planning Teams, (UPTs).”  The Office of Children, Youth and family programs coordinates UPTs for EOHHS.

Other Initiatives

EOHHS CYF staff support a number of initiatives that are coordinated by other agencies. These include:

Supportive Housing

 In 2012, the Massachusetts Legislature enacted St. 2012, c. 58, which directs multiple state agencies to develop a Community Housing and Services Memorandum of Understanding to identify methods and procedures for eliminating barriers and reducing fragmentation related to Core Community-Based Supportive Housing Services, and affordable housing, by: developing an action plan, benchmarking financial savings, developing a demonstration program, assessing Permanent Supportive Housing needs and establishing long term supportive housing targets.


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