Washington, DC– Today, the Department of Youth Rehabilitation Services (DYRS), the District of Columbia’s cabinet-level juvenile justice agency, released its first-ever annual report. The report examines all facets of the agency and includes District-specific data analyzed by juvenile justice experts in the non-profit and foundation space, court monitors and DYRS’ Office of Research and Quality Assurance.
“This comprehensive look represents an unprecedented approach to our reform efforts,” said Neil Stanley, DYRS Director. “We are allowing not just internal data, but the inclusion of external analysis by national experts to guide and inform our decision making.”
The report, based on DYRS’ approach to juvenile justice reforms, includes three core concepts: promoting Positive Youth Justice, protecting public safety and practicing effective management.
Positive Youth Justice is grounded in the philosophy of Positive Youth Development, and focuses on the specific developmental needs of young people involved in the juvenile justice system. This evidence-based approach asserts that youth are assets and resources to the community, and that with the right programs, opportunities, supports, and services, youth can develop to their full potential. DYRS examined the effectiveness of this principle through six core developmental domains: work, education, health and relationships, community and creativity.
DYRS has increased its focus on workforce development and the number of youth linked to job readiness, educational supports, health services and relationship supports in the community.
Public safety is a central component of DYRS’ mission. The agency works to reduce the likelihood that a youth will re-offend, either while in DYRS custody or upon release by employing strategies to promote public safety including: supervising and monitoring of all youth in DYRS custody, providing youth with rehabilitation services, tracking youth through electronic monitoring devices, responding to youth in abscondence, using tools to assess risk and recidivism and creating outcome-based measures to evaluate performance with respect to public safety.
DYRS has expanded electronic monitoring programs, improved responses to absconders, partnered with the Metropolitan Police Department on community public safety initiatives and enhanced security at New Beginnings, the District’s secure facility in Laurel, Maryland.
Improving the operations and the administration of services and programs and assessing performance using outcome-based evaluation processes is a strategy that DYRS employs to effectively manage. DYRS promotes effective management by using data-driven performance assessments, providing training and professional development resources to staff, sharing data with other agencies, cooperating with external oversight bodies, forging partnerships with community and government entities and providing effective alternatives to secure placement.
DYRS has improved oversight of community-based services, secured federal funds and foundation grants to continue existing programs and administer new programs and improved facility operations.
“These milestones represent DYRS’ reform efforts to-date,” said Stanley. “The work of our staff, past and present leadership, sister agencies, community partners, parents, youth, judges, advocates, funders and other stakeholders is represented in this report. While challenges remain, we can reflect and chart our course on sound data. This is not only what our citizens want, but what our youth deserve.”
ABOUT DYRS: The District of Columbia’s Department of Youth Rehabilitation Services (DYRS) is the District’s juvenile justice agency. DYRS improves public safety by giving court-involved youth the opportunity to become more productive citizens by building on the youths’ and families’ strengths in the least restrictive most homelike environment consistent with public safety. DYRS seeks to incorporate best practices and promising approaches to create the nation's best strength-based, data-driven juvenile justice agency.