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Letter to the Editor: DYS committed to safety of youths

Sunday, May 28, 2006

To the editor:

As the interim director of the Missouri Division of Youth Services, I want to respond to allegations and concerns appearing in a recent letter to the editor regarding our practices at Girardot Center. DYS is responsible for the care and rehabilitation of delinquent youths committed to state custody by local courts. Commitment is the option of last resort after all local juvenile court intervention efforts have been exhausted.

The Division of Youth Services has 10 core philosophies that guide the care and treatment of these juveniles. First on that list is the idea that "Safety and structure are the foundations of growth." All DYS practices reflect that promise, and the result has been an excellent track record on safety in all facilities, including the Girardot Center. In fact, other states and foreign countries travel to Missouri to study our system.

Missouri's youth services program is recognized as one of the most effective juvenile rehabilitation programs in the nation. The division and its method of rehabilitation (known as the Missouri model) are routinely cited in publications such as the Los Angles Times, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Governing Magazine, the American Youth Policy Forum and others as a national model for juvenile rehabilitation. We are humbled by these honors and remain vigilant in our efforts to ensure safety and provide excellent services to Missouri's youths.

PAUL BOLERJACK, Interim Director,

Missouri Division of Youth Services, Jefferson City, Mo.