East Tennessee State University
Massachusetts Department of Youth Services
Lynsey Heffernan, Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative
Tiziana Dearing, Boston College School of Social Work and Rappaport Institute Advisory Board Member
Description of Fellowship
Misti’s fellowship was at the Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative (JDAI) at the Massachusetts Department of Youth Services where she primarily supported efforts to mark the 10-year-anniversary of the JDAI implementation in Massachusetts by exploring the successes and challenges of the initiative and its impact on youth development and public safety. The JDAI is a public safety partnership focusing on reducing the unnecessary and harmful use of secure detention for low-risk juveniles. JDAI ensures that “the right youth, is in the right place, for the right reasons” through strategies that engage public, private, community, and family partners. Using data from DYS, DCF, probation, and the courts, Misti worked to highlight major accomplishments of JDAI as well as areas of disproportionate impact to suggest recommendations for future work. Specifically, this report provides evidence for a continued commitment to innovating collaborative service delivery approaches for special populations of youth across Massachusetts, including youth of color, females, and youth who have concurrent or past histories of contact with child welfare services at the time of their admission to detention. In line with her primary project, Misti compiled a policy and research brief highlighting national best practices for better serving youth dually-involved with child welfare and juvenile justice systems. She also assisted with mapping state practices onto the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s better conditions for confinement guidelines. This mapping project will allow DYS to explore areas in which Massachusetts may focus on with greater intentionality to better serve youth in care.