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The Division of Youth Services is responsible for the prevention and control of juvenile delinquency and the rehabilitation of children; administration of the Interstate Compact on Juveniles; collection of statistical data regarding juvenile court referrals; administration of juvenile court diversion funds for local delinquency prevention efforts; and providing technical assistance and consultation to juvenile courts, law enforcement, and other child care agencies.

The Division of Youth Services mission is to protect communities from juvenile offenders in the division’s care and custody and to provide appropriate services to youth and their families. This balanced approach to juvenile justice relies on community partnerships for development and enhancement of services for the prevention of delinquency.

The overall operation of the agency is overseen by the Division of Youth Services Advisory Board. This 15-member, bipartisan board is comprised of judges, former legislators, civic officials, and concerned citizens. They serve as a liaison between the Division of Youth Services and the governor, members of the legislature and judiciary, and the general public.

Throughout Missouri, the Division of Youth Services operates 31 residential programs serving 69 groups of 10-12 youth and 8 day-treatment programs. Division of Youth Services programs are located in both rural and urban/metropolitan areas throughout the state.

During FY 2014, there were 802 commitments to the Division of Youth Services. The average age of committed youth was 15.2 years, and they had an average of 9 years of schooling at the time of commitment. Over half came from single parent homes. Most were male offenders. 13% of the youth were committed for the most serious felonies (A&B felonies), 36% for other felonies, 37% were committed to the Division of Youth Services for misdemeanors and other non-felonies, and 14% for juvenile offenses.

Per statute, the Division of Youth Services may maintain custody of a youth until the age of 18 years. However, in certain circumstances, the committing court may grant a petition by the Division of Youth Services to retain custody of a youth until the age of 21 years.

No. Local juvenile and family courts operate juvenile detention centers.

No. The Missouri Supreme Court oversees the Circuit Courts, which in turn provide oversight for the local juvenile and family courts. In addition, the Juvenile and Adult Court Programs Division of the Office of State Courts Administrator assists courts with compliance with statutory mandates which primarily apply to juvenile and family court services.

No. The Division of Youth Services provides a continuum of services, including community care, day treatment programs, community based residential, moderate secure facilities, and secure care programs. Placement in these programs is based on the individual’s level of risk and need. Currently, the Division of Youth Services operates 7 community based residential programs serving 8 groups, 19 moderate secure residential programs serving 46 groups, and 5 secure care programs serving 15 groups.

In general, release decisions are the result of collaboration between the individual’s case manager/service coordinator, treatment team, and administrators. Decisions are based on the individual’s level of progress on his or her individual treatment plan as well as community safety. Additionally, the court of original jurisdiction is notified of treatment progress and release plans.

Youth are committed to the custody of the Division of Youth Services by the juvenile and family court system. In some cases, at the request of the circuit court, the Division of Youth Services may provide or supplement juvenile court services for youth who have not been committed to the Division of Youth Services and who remain under the supervision of the juvenile court.

Based on standardized pre- and post-test results, youth released from the Division of Youth Services programs are found to make significant, measurable improvements across a variety of psychosocial domains and academic achievement. In FY 2014, Division of Youth Services clients achieved a HiSET success rate of 92%, an 91% success rate for productive involvement in the school or work setting at the time of discharge from the Division of Youth Services, and a 98% success rate for youth involved in the jobs program.

Only 7% of the youth committed in FY 2014 had previously been in the custody of Division of Youth Services and there were 46 instances where a youth placed on aftercare was placed back into a residential program.

The Division of Youth Services has received national recognition such as having been the recipient of the Award of Excellence in Adolescent Care by the National Council on Crime and Delinquency and has been recognized as a model juvenile justice system for the country by several organizations and news media.

In fiscal year 2005, the cost to maintain a youth in a Division of Youth Services residential setting was:

Program Type Cost per day
Community Based $194.31
Moderately Secure $192.97
Secure Care $282.35

In fiscal year 2014, expenditures for the Division of Youth Services totaled $58.1 million. The majority of the overall budget, approximately $53 million was devoted to treatment services. Another $3.8 million was directed toward prevention efforts in the form of Juvenile Court Diversion funding to assist the various juvenile and family courts throughout the state. Only 3.5% of the total budget was utilized for administrative costs in the Central and Regional Offices.

The division has slightly over 1,270 employees.