Maryland’s 19 Youth Service Bureaus provide effective juvenile delinquency diversion treatment and family disruption services aimed at developing competent youth who can become responsible and productive members of society. The Bureaus successfully, and uniquely, provide family-focused counseling services in their respective communities and have done so since the early 1970’s. This existing network of Youth Service Bureaus in the State of Maryland has consistently provided long-term sustainable gains for youth and families receiving services and match Governor Ehrlich’s vision for a “child first culture” where children are prevented from entering the Juvenile Justice System.
Youth Service Bureaus work with youth and their families in helping to build effective skills to change behaviors. Youth Service Bureaus’ success can be attributed to their prevention, community-based, family focused approach to the development of a youth and his/her family’s protective factors. Bureaus dedication to effective service with care and integrity is recognized by families, schools, and others throughout the communities we serve.
Each Youth Service Bureau Is an Integral Part of the Community
As professionals and community members, Youth Service Bureaus are uniquely situated to develop, maintain or enhance the protective factors of an individual youth’s environment in the provision of mental health services. Within the environment, problem behaviors are not addressed in isolation but in context. Youth Service Bureaus work collaboratively not only with the youth and his/her parent but also, when appropriate, the teacher, school counselor, community police officer, juvenile probation officer, foster care worker and/or health professional to create a wrap-around service approach. The risk and protective factors of the individual, the family, the school, and the community are all part of the focus. In addition to mental health services, and in response to their respective community needs for this population, individual Youth Service Bureaus provide a variety of additional services such as case management, tutoring, mentoring, violence risk assessments, parent groups, and school anger management groups.
Bureaus work collaboratively with many systems to provide comprehensive youth/family interventions. Bureaus provide school-based and school-linked services, work with a community services network, respond to respected community advisers, and coordinate interventions with the staff of local departments of health, social services, juvenile services, and law enforcement.
Youth Service Bureaus Are Family-Focused
Bureaus work to strengthen families and enhance their functioning. Bureaus recognize the importance of the family as the primary educator of children, and work to support families through the development of effective parenting and family management skills. By offering services in the evenings and/or weekends, Bureau services are readily available to busy families. Because Bureaus have been a long established, stable presence in their communities, they are often able to offer families the benefit of their positive relationships with other, larger systems with which they have networked. Bureaus are successful at establishing rapport with families and with advocating for other comprehensive services that the families need.
Youth Service Bureaus Provide Services on a Continuum
YSB staff are well educated in child and adolescent development. They understand how children mature and the importance of early interventions in maximizing the achievement of positive outcomes for youth. They recognize the relevance of social contexts in the maturational process, and therefore design programs for a variety of age groups and settings. They also know how to strengthen protective factors to prevent youths identified as at-risk from entering the juvenile justice system.
Youth Service Bureaus Are Outcome-Based
Maryland’s Youth Service Bureaus emphasize effective programs with sustainable results. Youth Service Bureaus work closely with their individual Local Management Boards to develop outcome measures that capture the diversity of programs offered and the effective work they are doing to divert youth from the Juvenile Services System, to build healthy family relationships, and to ensure that all youth reach their educational and life potentials.
Youth Service Bureaus, through their state association, have committed to two-year tracking and outcome reporting to assure sustained positive impact on youth served, utilizing Department of Juvenile Services data on delinquency. In a 2003 follow-up study of families counseled, 93% of youth who had received formal counseling services from Youth Service Bureaus in fiscal year 2001 had not been adjudicated delinquent two years following counseling.
Youth Service Bureaus Are Effective
Youth Service Bureaus continually look to update their measurement methodologies to ensure that services provided are effective in reaching State defined goals for youth and families.
In fiscal year 2004, Youth Service Bureaus also worked in consultation with Dr. Elizabeth Timberlake, Professor Emerita of the Catholic University of America, Dr. Lynn Mayer and Dr. Michaela Zajiek-Farber to study the effectiveness of Youth Service Bureaus counseling services. Dr. Timberlake and her colleagues analyzed the results of an outcome tool that assessed change in problem severity of counseled youth. The research concluded that Youth Service Bureaus serve youth and families with multiple problems that necessitate diverse interventions in order to assist family members to become stronger and more functional. The researchers also concluded that Youth Service Bureaus are effective in reducing the number and intensity of problems in psychosocial functioning experienced by the youth and families served.