The Missouri Approach: A revolutionary approach to meaningful juvenile justice reform, Missouri Division of Youth Services
The Missouri Department of Youth Services is fully accredited as a free-standing school district. Each youth receives educational services guided by a personalized educational plan developed by the DYS education staff in partnership with the youth and his or her parents. Within the facilities, there are therapeutic one-room schoolhouses in which there are small classes and individualized learning experiences for all students. DYS emphasizes that each student be able to remediate deficiencies in learning skills and academic knowledge, that they are able to recover academic standing and units of high school credit and improve their behavior and study skills. Students are assigned a full-day schedule of classes and school is offered on at twelve-month school calendar. DYS may issue high school diplomas to students who meet the Missouri requirements for graduation, additionally; students transferring from DYS to another high school in Missouri should have their grade placement and credits accepted as stated on the transcript. DYS also offers transition supports in the form of virtual academies, case management, mentors and learning coaches. DYS also reaches out to family members and involves them as partners in the treatment process and in planning for aftercare transition. Staff conduct intensive aftercare planning prior to release and monitor and mentor youth closely in the first few weeks following release and work to reenroll them in school upon their release.