April 20, 2021

EDC to Study Education of Massachusetts Youth in Juvenile Justice Custody and Care

EDC has been awarded a contract from the Massachusetts Department of Youth Services (DYS) to conduct the first evaluation in over a decade of the educational services provided to young people detained in or committed to the Commonwealth’s juvenile justice facilities. Results of the study will be used to strengthen educational programs and services provided to youth in DYS custody and specifically to advance DYS’s anti-racist education initiatives.

Over the next two years, a team of EDC researchers, led by principal investigator Meg Caven and partner Charlene Taylor, a senior researcher at Evident Change, will conduct the evaluation, working closely with the DYS education team. The study team will adhere closely to the principles of culturally responsive evaluation, including hiring community-based data collectors who reflect the demographic profile of many DYS youth to support instrument development, data collection, and analysis.

The evaluation will gain the perspectives of students on DYS’s progress in achieving its objectives for its education system. Key activities will include the following:

  • Interviews and surveys with students, educators, and DYS staff during annual visits to the DYS campus and stand-alone residential settings
  • Surveys of youth who have been released from custody and reentered the community
  • Surveys of parents and guardians of youth who have reentered the community

“Education is one of the strongest predictors of youth success after incarceration. We are honored to support DYS’s commitment to providing a high-quality, personalized, and culturally affirming education to all students.” said Caven. “We hope that by bringing the voices of young people and their communities into conversations with educators and agency leadership, our findings will inform and advance the efforts of DYS to further strengthen its educational services.”