The Division of Youth Services’ mission is to provide effective community-based prevention, diversion, appropriate correction and rehabilitation, improved education and thorough aftercare in order to enhance the comprehensive well-being of the youth of Arkansas involved in the juvenile justice system.
Arkansas’ juvenile justice system is a leader in reform and collaboration across the state, working to prevent most youth from ever needing legal intervention and providing those that do with effective rehabilitation and reintegration; youth that become involved with the juvenile justice system are treated, educated, and equipped with the tools they need to find success as productive and responsible members of collective society.
- Act 199 of 1905 established the first reform schools in Arkansas in Little Rock and Alexander, respectively.
- Act 67 of 1917, the Arkansas Boys' Reform School was relocated to Pine Bluff.
- Act 60 of 1937 established two additional "training" schools at Wrightsville and Fargo.
In 1968, the Department for Rehabilitative Services was assigned responsibility to administer "training" schools. The Benton Services Center was opened and controlled the diagnosis and intake responsibilities regarding the youth committed to state custody.
In 1971, Act 38 established the Department of Social and Rehabilitative Services (SRS), a fore-runner to the current Department of Human Services. The Office of Juvenile Services was placed under the direction of the Director of SRS. In 1977, the Division of Youth Services was formally created as a division within the present Department of Human Services (DHS).
In 1985, Act 348 merged the Division of Youth Services with the Division of Children and Family Services until Act 1296 of 1993 reestablished DYS as an independent division [within DHS]. The Division of Youth Services (DYS) was authorized by Act 1296 to be "devoted entirely to handling the problems of youths involved in the juvenile justice system." DYS became operational in October 1993 and is responsible for client-specific programming and individual treatment programs, serious offender programs for violent youth offenders, providing alternative community-based programming, and other services specified directly by Act 1296.