DYS operates a case management system that provides treatment assessment and planning through the coordination and utilization of the various regional services available to youth. The same case manager, or Service Coordinator (SC), will serve as the youth’s advocate throughout the system. Service Coordinator caseloads are typically maintained at 15-20 youth. The SC is the primary liaison between the family and the agency in regard to overseeing and guiding all aspects of treatment. This small caseload allows the SC to develop and maintain close relationships with each youth, family and community to which they are assigned. To provide continuity and consistency, each youth remains with the same service coordinator throughout his/her DYS commitment.

When DYS is advised by an officer of the court that a youth has been committed to its care and custody, a SC is immediately assigned to serve as that youth’s case manager. Initially, the SC will meet with the youth, family members, juvenile officer, teachers, and any other sources that may be able to offer information regarding the youth’s strengths and needs. In close conjunction with the family, the treatment needs of the youth are thoroughly discussed and an Individual Treatment Plan (ITP) is developed.

During the initial intake, the SC completes a Risk/Needs Assessment. This tool, along with the specific needs of the youth, will ultimately determine the most appropriate placement. Considerable efforts are made to keep the youth in the least restrictive environment that best fits their treatment needs and is also proximal to their home community. Placement options include an array of DYS-operated residential facilities, DYS Day-Treatment Programs, other-agency contractual care settings and, in select cases, community care, in which the youth is placed back in the community with wraparound treatment services.

In conjunction with the development of the ITP, the SC will meet with his/her supervisor and staff team to discuss the particulars of the case and formulate specific treatment interventions for the youth. These team meetings occur several times each month and allow the SC to staff cases and problem solve with their peers and immediate supervisor. These meetings also allow the team to review and coordinate residential placements, receive supervisory training, and further build team cohesion. SC meetings are typically held on the campus of residential facilities affording the SC immediate access to their youth before and/or after the meetings.

Following placement in a program, the Service Coordinator continuously works with members of the treatment team to assess each youth’s needs and progress in completing their ITP. Continuous communication between the SC, youth, the youth’s family and treatment staff is viewed as imperative to the youth’s success. In addition to monitoring the youth’s progress, the SC evaluates the services provided to youth and their families, ensuring services provided are both effective and appropriate for the individual needs of that youth. As youth near their release date, transition meetings are held in which parents, SC, youth and facility staff meet to discuss the youth’s pending release. Using this information, the SC develops an Aftercare Plan to help ease the youth’s return to the community. The SC serves as a resource to help coach and guide activities aimed at meeting the goals found in the ITP during the entire residential placement. Progress toward outlined goals are documented by the SC and formally reported to the family and court on a regular basis.

In addition to the monitoring described above, a formal meeting with the youth, family, SC and treatment providers occurs on six month anniversaries of the youth’s commitment. This Administrative Review takes place for all youth in DYS custody and provides the stage to measure progress toward ITP goals; examine the quality and effectiveness of treatment provided; and to make further adjustments to the ITP, if so warranted. It is typically facilitated by regional staff not directly affiliated with the facility of placement.

Service Coordinators are typically assigned to a specific county(s) or area of the state. The geographic size of this area varies greatly, depending on the population of the individual community(s) and the subsequent number of commitments from the member circuits. This area specialization allows the SC to become familiar with the services available to youth and families in their communities. The service coordinators continuously work to develop community-based partnerships for job placement, alternative education and treatment opportunities for the youth. This may include placement in vocational training, employment, counseling, GED classes, public school and/or college.

In conclusion, it is important to note the juvenile courts actually relinquish their jurisdiction upon the youth’s commitment to DYS. Understanding this, DYS strives to maintain positive working relationships with each of Missouri’s juvenile courts. Regular communication occurs with the juvenile office as they are advised of youth progress and challenges. The courts are afforded the opportunity to influence both facility releases and discharges from DYS custody. The comments and information they provide is weighed against what the youth has done in treatment and typically addressed prior to DYS action.