For years, the so-called Missouri Model of rehabilitating juvenile offenders has been closely watched and, in some states, copied in an effort to keep youngsters from becoming adult criminals. The Missouri Model works. This state has one of the lowest recidivism rates in the nation.
The Missouri Model received prestigious national attention earlier this month when the Division of Youth Services, part of the Department of Social Services, was recognized by Harvard University with its Innovations in American Government Award. DYS was one of six recipients of the award this year.
Along with the award comes $100,000 to be used to replicate the program in other states. Only one other Missouri program has ever received the Harvard award. That was the Parent As Teachers program in 1986. Since then, PAT programs have been started in all 50 states.
DYS has 32 residential centers for youths around the state, including the Girardot Center for Youth in Cape Girardeau, along with a day center here known as Echo. The program emphasizes education, therapy and special programs to help youths understand the effect their actions have.
Congratulations to the entire DYS program across the state. Thanks to your efforts, hundreds of Missouri youngsters have been helped along the path to successful lives.