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By DYS Commissioner Jane Tewksbury

Earlier this month the Department of Youth Services began the official implementation of a $610,000 Youth Mentoring Grant, awarded by the U.S. Department of Justice Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) to the state Commonwealth Corporation, a quasi-public corporation within the Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development. The grant awards have been distributed through the Commonwealth Corporation to five designated community-based partners and will support mentoring programs for youth in the custody of the Department of Youth Services in six cities across the Commonwealth:  Boston, Brockton, Holyoke, Quincy, Lawrence and Worcester. 

The program, developed in partnership with DYS, will support transitional services for approximately 144 youth ages 15 to 17 as soon as they return home from residential treatment at a DYS facility. Transitional services include: the implementation of a community-based, one-on-one mentoring model and increased access to education and workforce opportunities. Commonwealth Corporation and the Massachusetts Mentoring Partnership, a statewide umbrella organization dedicated to expanding quality youth mentoring in Massachusetts, will provide training to all community-based partners on effective mentoring, including methods for recruiting and supporting mentors, mentor training, and ways to ensure high quality mentoring connections.

This grant helps support DYS’ goal of providing a range of community re-entry services to our clients that that will help support their ability to serve as contributing members of society. Nothing has a more powerful impact in shaping a child's positive development than the meaningful presence of caring adults in their lives. This grant is a tangible way to engage with the Commonwealth Corporation and strong regional partners in a collaborative effort to make that happen for DYS-involved youth, who are among the highest at-risk youth in the state.

To mark the implementation of these grants, the Commonwealth Corporation hosted an informational event last week at the University of Phoenix on its Westborough Campus.  The grant recipients from six communities joined me, Commonwealth Corporation President Nancy Snyder, staff from DYS and the community partners to collectively receive a refresher course on the parameters of the grant; national research on juvenile justice mentoring; information on trainings available for grantees and a seminar on the lessons learned by Family Services, Inc. a program in Lawrence that is currently providing mentoring services to youth.

I’m delighted that the Department is partnering with both the Commonwealth Corporation and the Massachusetts Mentoring Partnership to provide this important resource to DYS-involved youth. This kind of collaboration is crucial to the successful transition of youth from the juvenile justice system to a healthy, supportive environment that provides viable alternatives to delinquency.

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