U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

NCJRS Virtual Library

The Virtual Library houses over 235,000 criminal justice resources, including all known OJP works.
Click here to search the NCJRS Virtual Library

Missouri Division of Youth Services' Innovative Approach to Juvenile Corrections Staffing

NCJ Number
Corrections Today Magazine Volume: 66 Issue: 5 Dated: August 2004 Pages: 100-103
Mark D. Steward; Amanda Andrade
Date Published
August 2004
4 pages
This article describes the rehabilitative approach to juvenile justice taken by the Missouri Division of Youth Services.
The Missouri Division of Youth Services (DYS) saw the need to overhaul the juvenile justice system so that youths could be diverted from deeper involvement in the juvenile justice system and, eventually, the adult justice system. Using resources granted by Missouri’s executive and legislative leaders, the DYS began the process of creating an organizational and employment plan based on the mission of the DYS, which is the safe and secure care of youths. The author describes the approach toward juvenile justice previously taken by the DYS, which involved housing juveniles in training schools, which resembled adult correctional facilities more than school. DYS abandoned this approach and instead began housing juvenile offenders in a series of smaller facilities across the State. This approach provided a more rehabilitative and positive environment for the youths and emphasized containing and modifying the delinquent behavior of youths by providing them a positive role in a group process. The change from the custodial approach to the rehabilitative approach seemed formidable, especially given the need for a college-educated and well-trained workforce. The current DYS approach is flourishing and has brought recidivism rates down to less than 10 percent. The staff is considered the key element to the success of the program. Instead of the classification of “correctional officer,” DYS classifies juvenile justice workers as “youth specialists,” allowing the agency to tap into a college-educated workforce with a sincere interest in working with troubled youths. The agency recruits at universities, job fairs, and specialty expos. The DYS also actively recruits a diverse workforce to reflect the diversity found in the local communities. After attracting qualified employees, the DYS focuses on retaining them by providing them the tools to be successful at the job and the motivation to believe in the mission of the agency.