I’ve heard several concerns about the pending closing of the Division of Youth Services (DYS) facility in Dermott. The closing is part of an overall change in how the AR Department of Human Services (DHS) delivers services to the approximately 350 youth who are court-ordered into DYS custody annually. Prompt and appropriate treatment will remain a focus in the initial phase of transformation, with services to be provided in the least restrictive setting. The majority of DYS youth are in custody for non-violent offenses.
Specific goals are set that include the closing of Dermott’s juvenile treatment center that houses youth ages 11-17 by June 30, 2019. The Colt facility will merge with the Harrisburg facility, and that will reduce the number of DYS residential facilities from 7 to 5. Employees will be given options to transfer to other state employment.
An all-female treatment center will be created at Harrisburg. Also, the goal is to expand group home and specialty provider beds to double the number currently available. Added vocational programming and options for older youth are planned.
Family engagement and community support are necessary to ensure success after treatment, and working with aftercare providers and members of the judiciary will help support juveniles when they return to their homes and communities. Community based treatment options will continue to be needed to support these youth and their families upon their release.
Please let me know if you have further questions that I can help get answered.