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Date Posted: 10/12/2018

Review of Residential Services for Youth in DYS Custody Identifies Strengths, Challenges

For Immediate Release
Oct. 12, 2018

Media Contact: Amy Webb
DHS Chief of Communications & Community Engagement
Amy.webb@dhs.arkansas.gov


Review of Residential Services for Youth in DYS Custody Identifies Strengths, Challenges
State reviewing recommendations, looking at ways to address issues in upcoming session and beyond

The Arkansas Department of Human Services (DHS) Division of Youth Services (DYS) released the results of an independent review of its residential system for court-involved youth on Friday that showed the State has made some strides in recent years, but significantly more work is needed to make Arkansas a model system.

“We applaud DHS and the State of Arkansas for being willing to take a close look at its current residential programs for youth with the goal of providing the most effective services for young people and families,” said Center for Children’s Law and Policy Deputy Director Jason Szanyi, who helped with the review. “Our goal was to identify the State’s strengths and challenges and outline a path toward model systems we see in other states.”

DYS Director Betty Guhman said she appreciates the candid assessment of the residential system. The Division is already working to address many of the issues identified and will put a plan in place to handle other recommendations that fit with ongoing reform efforts.

“There are steps we as a State can take within the next year and within the next five years to considerably improve our residential treatment programs for youth in our care,” Guhman said. “It won’t be easy and it will take time, but we are committed to improving this system.”

The Center found that the strengths of the system include that DHS:

To conduct the review, the Center staff visited all eight of the State’s residential juvenile treatment centers, reviewed data about DYS’ youth population, and talked with staff and stakeholders. Challenges identified that prevent the State from having a truly effective and model residential program include:

The Center concluded its review with 25 recommendations for actions the State could take in 12-24 months and two to five years. Some of the recommendations the State is working toward include:

Link: Arkansas Residential Services Review Report.pdf

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