Commissioners Corner

Peter Forbes
DYS Commissioner
Dear DYS and Provider colleagues,

During the month of November, we recognized staff members who served in the United States military. These individuals shared critical years of their lives in the service of our country and we appreciate that sacrifice.

Over the last 8 months we have faced historical challenges related to the COVID-19 Pandemic as well as systemic racism. I would like to take this opportunity to thank all of you for your efforts during this challenging time. All of us have been confronted with balancing our personal safety / family responsibilities with our commitment to our daily work. The staff that have shown up to ensure safe and continuous operation of our state operated facilities as well as the programs operated by our provider partners deserve special recognition. Our agency is in good stead as a direct result of all your efforts.

In this same time period, the Department has invested in a process that holds us accountable related to fair decision making for DYS involved youth. This requires an ongoing review of data surrounding critical decision points. We are also working toward more diversity throughout the DYS workforce.

Admissions to overnight arrest and detention beds has trended down. We are also receiving DYS commitments at a lower rate than we projected based on prior year data. This has allowed our regional and program-based staff room to make sure that we're able to deliver on the safest process possible for youth and staff. Cleaning, screening, social distancing, masks, hand washing, quarantining and other key safety activities have been carried out at a high level of professionalism and effectiveness.

As we look ahead to fiscal year 2022 (begins July 1, 2021) we anticipate a review and new procurement of our educational platform, a new procurement of career, vocational and technical educations services and some reorganization of our residential continuum. These activities are supported by an active and thoughtful strategic planning and master (capital) planning process.
I wish you and your families a happy and healthy holiday season.


Peter J. Forbes, DYS Commissioner

In This Issue:
DYS Information
vetsVeterans Day Celebrations in DYS
Thank you, Veterans!
The month of November kicked-off our FY2021 Self-Identification campaign for Veterans. Veterans make valuable contributions to our workforce and collective success. During the month of November, we took time to celebrate and recognize them. 
DYS staff across the Commonwealth took part in celebrating Veterans in each of their regions while keeping everyone safe during this pandemic.
DYS Regional Celebrations of Veterans
Jason Lewis, Office Support Specialist II in the Northeast Region, sent an excerpt he wrote to all Northeast Region Staff that rings true and worthy of sharing to you all:
"There is no way to put into words how thankful 'We the People' are for the sacrifices our Veterans have made to protect our freedom and our country". November 11 is one day that is set aside in which we all must try our best to express how appreciative we truly are. Veterans comprise our family, our friends, our neighbors, our colleagues... They are men, women, gay, straight, bisexual... and so much more. Simply put, Veterans are a direct reflection of the individuals in every community across the entire globe. And today, it is imperative that we all take a moment to spark a small conversation with a Veteran, to say 'Thank You' to a Veteran or to simply think about a Veteran. This simple act of gratitude will mean a great deal to the individuals who have sacrificed their lives in service to this wonderful country and to you.
While trying to put into words the gratitude we feel for our Veterans, we stumbled across a wonderful, open letter written by John C. Maxwell to our United States Veterans. Within this letter, Maxwell is able to verbalize the sentiments that many of us feel toward our Veterans. Although your overall sentiments may differ, we want to encourage you to take a moment to read the letter below and reflect on your own feelings throughout the day...
'Today is Veterans Day, a day set aside to honor those who have worn the uniforms of the Air Force, Army, Coast Guard, Navy and Marine Corps while serving our country at home and around the world.
I've been blessed to speak with and for our military on different occasions, and while I'm grateful for each person who actively serves, I am especially grateful for those whose service is behind them. To honor our veterans, I want to share just a couple of thoughts around the idea of values.
Our veterans have contributed much value to my life and yours, and it's only right that we stop today and acknowledge our appreciation for them because they willingly gave of themselves for a bigger cause.
The Value of Values
For the last few years, my team and I have worked in Guatemala, Paraguay, and Costa Rica towards the goal of transformation. We've led roundtables, held events, and worked closely with the citizens of those countries to help influence lasting, positive change that will impact future generations.
At the root of everything we're doing is values-good values, held deeply in the hearts of individuals-are what transform communities and countries.
Values matter, and the values of the US military branches reflect that truth. Each of the services have a set of core values that help identify and shape the character of its people.
I want to write just a bit about the core values of the Army because they are powerful and instructive to those of us who've never served. While each military branch has their own core values, over 36 percent of our veterans served in the Army and the core values of the other branches are found within these seven:
  • Loyalty-the Army defines loyalty as "believing in and devoting yourself to something or someone." Simply put, it is a commitment to love, care, and support your people. And leaders should always demonstrate loyalty first before asking for it from their people.
  • Duty-this means "fulfilling your obligations," and it's a picture of each member of a team doing his or her part with excellence to ensure the success of everyone.
  • Respect-I love how the Army defines this: "appreciate the best in other people." It's putting a "10" on everyone's head and trusting that they will live up to that belief.
  • Selfless Service-adding value to others by putting their needs ahead of your own. It's the willingness to exceed expectations so others will benefit.
  • Honor-living according to your values. We live with honor when our walk matches our talk.
  • Integrity-this is living authentically by being a person who doesn't deceive or intentionally mislead others. Integrity as a leader is the foundation upon which trust is built.
  • Personal Courage-courage is the willingness to act in the face of fear. We build our courage when we stand up for what we believe is right and good.
And did you notice that these values can be summed up by the acrostic LDRSHIP (leadership)?
I love that!
The Value of Veterans
There's so much good teaching that could come out of those seven values, but I want to shift gears a bit and speak directly to veterans.
Much is made of your service, and rightfully so. We see celebrations and acknowledgments of your valuable work everywhere from stadiums to the halls of Congress, and yet it is not easy for many of you to return to life post-service. 
There are challenges that you face, from serious issues like homelessness and mental health, to the everyday challenges of returning to life outside of the close-knit community of your unit.
After months and years as a soldier, sailor, or airman, transitioning to the role of civilian may be one of the hardest assignments you ever have. As you look to find your new way forward, I want to say something that I hope will be encouraging.
While I don't know your reasons for joining the military, I do know that your time in uniform instilled in you the capacity for leadership, growth, and purpose. You know what it means to live a life that adds value to others, and you know how to get things done with excellence. The values that defined your time in the service are transferrable to your life beyond the service, and we need those values in the public sphere.
We need you as much today as we did when you wore the uniform. Maybe we need you more.
One thing is certain, however-today, we honor and celebrate you. We give you our gratitude for all you've done, and we look forward to all you'll do next.'
Thank you to all of the brave individuals who have chosen to sacrifice themselves in service of this country. You are all our heroes! Happy Veterans Day from the Northeast Region!
In this email, Jason also included a  PowerPoint that lists the brave and amazing men and women of the NE Region recognized this year, an incredibly inspiring video 'What is a Veteran', capturing images of our NE Veterans (past and present) and various images from previous year's festivities.
The Southeast Region hosted its 3rd Annual Veteran's Day Breakfast. This event honored veterans from both the state and provider communities within the region. The Western Region hosted a small celebration where the Veterans received coffee mugs and thank you cards along with a social distant luncheon. The Central Region also held a ceremony at the Leahy Center next to the flagpole. Project New Hope sponsored the Central Region Veterans event and were there to greet and hand out Bose headphones for each veteran. Aly Whalen, Central's Regional Director, hand wrote cards, packaged them with the headphones along with a DYS Veterans facemask, and dropped the packages off to each veteran. Lastly, the Metro Region honored our veterans with DYS/Veteran jersey's that recognize their service to the Country and the Department. 
Veterans Self-Identification
The Commonwealth is committed to creating a diverse and inclusive workforce In November, the Commonwealth launched the Self-Identification campaign to encourage state employees who are Veterans to self-identify through a simple process of completing and submitting the Self-Identification of Veterans form.
While voluntary, veterans who self-identify will be helping to shape a more diverse and inclusive workforce that reflects the citizens of the Commonwealth. There are benefits to self-identifying. Based on the Veteran status, a veteran may be eligible for Civil Service or Retirement related benefits, such as a veteran's preference on civil service eligibility lists.
A veteran can self-identify at any time by contacting the DYS Human Resources Department. If you have previously self-identified as a Veteran, there is no need to do so again.

hybridHybrid Education during the COVID-19 Pandemic
There is no doubt that the Coronavirus turned *mostly* everything in everyone's lives upside down. Every aspect of the agency needed to be analyzed and protocols and guidance's needed to be put in place in order to keep our staff and youth safe. With staff being unable to work because they were sick, had close contact with COVID positive individuals , and/or had to be home to assist their families during the pandemic, it was clear that DYS needed new employees more than ever and those new employees needed to be trained. 

Jennie Perella, Director of Training, and her team understood that training is essential to prepare employees for the work that they would be required to perform to support our youth and families. However, it was also incumbent for the Department to mitigate the risk of COVID-19 transmission and provide a safe environment for staff training. 

With this in mind, the training team feverishly worked on creating plans that will provide DYS with a fully trained workforce to meet daily operational needs while keeping staff, families and youth safe.

The Department recognizes the DYS Training Team (Jennie Perella, John Kochinskas, Matthew Potter, Monsell Lloyd, Danielle Spitz, Alice Efland, and Lindsay Adams as part of our lineup of COVID-19 Unsung Heroes. We knew re-imaging training would not be easy, but we appreciated how quickly the Training Team came together to create and implement training plans that could be adjusted for the different phases of this pandemic. Raul Delgado, Communications Coordinator, had the opportunity to sit down and talk with Monsell Lloyd, an indispensable member of the DYS Training Team. Monsell had been in several different DYS positions in residential programming, as well as a caseworker in the community before joining the Training Team. Monsell is also a member of the DYS Equity and Fairness work group that meets regularly to examine and discuss how race and ethnicity impacts our agency staff, work, and outcomes for our youth.

Monsell moved to Massachusetts from Anguilla 10 years ago to go to school and never looked back. Originally, he wanted to be a doctor, but instead chose a path that led to work in the human services field. His first job was at a day and residential school that served emotionally disturbed students with conduct, behavior, emotional, and/or psychiatric problems, and students with intellectual disabilities or on the autism spectrum. This was followed by an opportunity to work for the Department of Youth Services and Monsell has worked here since! When speaking with Monsell about his earlier aspirations to go into the medical field, he said "I feel like I've always had that niche for working with kids and being successful with the kids. And if I could save a youth from going to emergency room, I'm saving a life- so, I just I just stuck with it."
What career accomplishment makes you most proud?
"One of my biggest career accomplishments was when I used to work the floor. I was promoted from a Group Worker III to an Assistant Program Director of Goss Revocation. At the time, the unit was at a very low point. When I took over with Program Director Roque Ramos, we had about eight staff. Both Roque and I were able to turn our 8 person staff unit into a fully staffed functioning unit.
It was gratifying that they trusted me to be in that position. It was important for me to build relationships and have the support of my colleagues.
If I had to choose, my favorite position with the Department would be when I worked as a Caseworker. I enjoyed spending time with the kids and seeing what they did in their own environment."
As a trainer for DYS, what are some skills you have acquired that make the agency better?
"I always felt that for staff to do a good job, they needed to understand the importance of building relationships with the kids and know how our kids need to be treated. Relationship building was key. I felt like if I if I could catch people earlier at the Training Academy and I could start to change their way of thinking and understanding that you'll be more successful with our kids calm. My kids would always tell me, 'You know why you are very successful? Because you listen to us all and you always communicated with us, you never leave us hanging.'
We, collectively, as a team, try to make everyone feel as though they are part of this family- that's really important."
Aside from skills that Monsell has added to his tool box, he also expressed the importance of having a diverse workforce. "When I first came into the agency, a number of people at the Training Academy were predominantly white," said Monsell. "I always thought that was something that needed to be changed. When you walk through the door, you want to see someone that resembles you."
How has COVID-19 impacted the Training Center? Specifically, what sort of adjustments have you and the trainers had to make in order to be able to train over the last 8 months?
Monsell was used to working with his colleagues and trainees on a face-to-face basis and the change to virtual meetings made him come up with different ways to get his points across.
"It has been extremely difficult for the training over the last couple months especially when it comes to the pandemic; not only for the trainers but also the administrators. There has been a lot of behind the scenes work with regards to getting new employees through the door. Back in March when we had the first shut down, we created a Webex training that would get cleaners and employees through the door temporarily just to get through a few weeks until we can meet again in person to actually do basic. Jenny and Lisa did an outstanding job with coming up with a hybrid model where each trainer goes to a different region and teaches basic for a week. That was extremely difficult because it has a lot of moving parts. We all had to go to each region prior to training and test our equipment out individually and for some reason they were always challenges with internet connections. We all know how technology is and when we need it, sometimes it just fails. Some of our laptops and projectors were crashing due to the long hours we were running them. We also had to order new equipment which was also in high demand worldwide for example web cameras, microphones, and external hard drives."
With the hybrid training model that you guys are using with WebEx, what has been the feedback of that approach to training?
"When it comes this hybrid model, we continued getting mass amounts of people who needed to be trained. We had to limit the class sizes to about 12. The trainers have been going nonstop. Along with basic training, we are still doing Ars [annual reviews], PREA for providers for the upcoming PREA audits as well and getting new trainings ready for next year. I hope I don't jinx us, but we all have been working very hard over the last couple of months, full throttle, and if one of us gets sick it would definitely put a wrench into our operation. It is very difficult to keep everyone engaged in our training. We had to incorporate a number changes to our trainings due to our activities and breakout sessions. When there is a drop in the internet or loss in connection, each trainer needs to be focused and paying attention at all times, so we can be prepared to jump in where anyone leaves off, so we can close those gaps. For the new employees coming in, they seemed to like the new model... but it can be difficult to look at a screen all day and stay engaged."

RDinterviewInterview with Regional Directors - Ja'Net Smith
Ja'Net Smith DYS Western Regional Director
Ja'Net Smith received her Master's in Social Work from the University of Connecticut and began working with the human service agency, CHD, a contracted provider for the Department of Youth Services. She started as a teacher and then the clinician at the Terri Thomas Girls program in 2002. She moved up the ranks to Clinical and Program Director and then took a position with CHD as the Director of Juvenile Justice Programs. In 2015, Ja'Net was hired by DYS as the Western Regional Director. She also serves as a facilitator for the agency's Equity and Fairness Workgroup where she co-lead discussions on issues of racial and ethnic disparities that impact youth, families, and staff.
As a reminder, on February 1, 2020 the City of Boston announced its first confirmed case of COVID-19 and on March 10, 2020 Governor Baker declared a state of emergency to support the Commonwealth's response to the coronavirus.
The Western Region had its first positive COVID-19 case on March 27. And since then, the region has had a total of 16 positive cases.
Thank you, Ja'Net, for taking the time to sit for an interview with the Communications Team.
How were you able to manage staff throughout the pandemic?
"I think it was a lot about creating systems for ongoing communication right away. We created systems within the region to have daily communications with our exec team and we had weekly meetings with all the leadership within the region. We created a daily report for our staff members who would report from programs and district offices regarding procedural and operational things that we needed to know about. But it was also things like, do you have questions? Do you have concerns that you need addressed? People really appreciated that we checked in on their mental and physical health daily."

During the interview, Ja'Net further explained the daily form they had programs fill out. The Western region was very adamant about being open and honest with their staff. From the beginning, they encouraged their staff and youth to ask questions and express concerns coming from the residential settings as well as the community. Ja'Net and her staff made sure that the kids were still able to have contact with family members and still able to get outside to exercise.
To try and help her staff and youth adjust to these uncertain times, Ja'Net began listening to and attending several webinars. "I actually heard from someone out of San Francisco who helped health care workers and all essential employees on the front-line deal with the stress, the trauma, and the uncertainty," said Ja'Net. "I would spend the first 30 minutes of our staff meetings, just giving them techniques on how to stay well, self-care, how to find rest in these times how to be mindful of these things. It was interesting that a lot of this stuff wasn't about just the operations of COVID, but about really, how do you take care of yourself with this level of intensity. It helped me to set the tone, in the beginning, instructing management to not make promises to staff and youth regarding time frames and when this will all be over. We worked on giving them language that they could use with the people they supervise. One of those techniques that became popular was the idea of 'Push and Pause'. It was so easy for leaders to just keep going and taking no breaks because there was so much to do. The technique suggests that after each push (physically or mentally) that you take a short time to pause and care for yourself. This could even be just 90 seconds of deep breathing between calls or events in your schedule. It could also be just taking time after each shift to care for yourself.
We also started coming up with positive phrases to use, like 'We're One Day Closer and One Day Stronger' and 'Together in the West'. We actually made them into T-Shirts that people loved.
I also have to say that I am so proud of all the staff and the leadership team in the region. Everyone has given so much of themselves and everyone has done their part."
What have been your biggest challenges in terms of COVID-19 and your region?
"So, in the beginning, I think one issue was technology, everyone worked fast to adjust, but If we had had a better infrastructure that would have been helpful. Getting information was hard sometimes, not as any fault of anyone, but because we're asking for information and then Central Office would have to ask DPH or EHS then we'd have to wait for the response, then we'd have to get that response that we have to put it into effect. I mean, that was probably one of the more challenging pieces because we were pressed for time, but we also had to assure we did the right thing and had the right guidance.
Lastly, I felt a lot of real heaviness about the responsibility to take care of staff and kids. You really need to make sure people are safe coming to work because they're going to be around the kids and then go home to their families. And at the very beginning, there was a lot we didn't know, and we weren't wearing masks yet (PPE was not available in the beginning)- but what I did know was not wanting to jeopardize my family and not wanting our staff to jeopardize their families. I remember going home after a day at work and not wanting to hug my own kids because all we knew was that there was this virus out here that can cause a lot of harm. The unknown was really hard. Once we received PPE and the CDC was gathering more info and sharing that, it became much more manageable. Having access to Central Office and regional health services personnel was also critical to our success."
Towards the end, Ja'Net and I discussed next steps regarding taking care of our staff and youth. Ja'Net said that "the only thing I would add is I think we're going to have to think about staff wellness, after this. We must think about the staff who were diagnosed, or staff who have had personal losses in their life related to COVID, and the staff who have been trying to manage their children's remote learning while working full time. We must plan for how we are going to further support our staff. We do a great job taking care of young people, and I feel like taking care of the staff is how we're going to continue to take care of young people. There is burnout. But if you appreciate your staff and treat them well, they're going to be happier to be there." It is what I've seen here in the Western Region and I'd like to take this time to thank all of them. They have worked tirelessly, and I will be forever grateful. I know that youth and families are grateful as well. We are getting through it together. We are all rowing in the same direction and each person is doing their part. One thing I love about this region is that we collaborate and work within our strengths. Each person, no matter their role, state or provider, brings something unique and special to the work and we find a way to have people use those strengths as a part of the larger team. It is remarkable to see how we did that through this difficult time; not surprising, but remarkable!
COVID-19 Friendly Activities Throughout the Regions
As you all know, our staff and youth were significantly impacted by COVID-19. The Department of Youth Services needed to pause daily recreational activities that were offered in order to follow social distancing guidelines in order to keep our staff and youth safe. Each region saw this challenge and came up with innovative activities that would keep our residential and community youth entertained, and safely.

The Brockton team hosted a dinner cooking event with one youth and some of her family members to help them feel connected to us, as DYS, and each other, as a family. The Brockton Team has been focusing a lot on family engagement activities considering the social distancing requirements. These activities have helped the youth, who have felt disconnected from others, by finding different ways to feel united within our families. Southeast staff reported that when they asked why this youth decided to spend her Wednesday evening at the District Office, she said, "Well, because it keeps me out of trouble on the streets and we get to enjoy bomb food with staff."
Jason DiMare, Metro's MYSC Food Services Director, started a Wednesday E.A.T.s (Engage and Taste). Every Wednesday for lunch, during the Fall/Winter cycle, MYSC will be holding a special event or a special meal, or a wacky experiment in the cafeteria served by their dedicated kitchen staff.  "On Wednesday's during lunch, we will have a tasting table with a specified tasting event set up for you to enjoy, OR, we will be serving a lunch that requires you to choose the items of your liking and experience something different, OR, we will surprise you with something totally special," said Jason. "This series of events is designed with team building and morale boosting in mind, and it's just a little appreciation for the hard work you all put in everyday for the safety and security of your residents." 
In September they hosted an ice cream social distancing event, in which youth created their own sundaes, and take it with them. They will also be hosting a taco AND burger bar. 

The Central Region started a Shark Tank Initiative where all programs (state and provider) and district offices had to come up with a Shark Tank presentation and pitch it to senior team and who will pick an initiative that they would like to "fund". "Our actual goal is to fund them all (no heavy lifting) but we will declare a winner," said Aly, Regional Director. "We have had some great in person, WebEx and video presentations. I thought it was crucial to reinvigorate the region and push them to be creative and as much as they groaned; they have taken it in stride and have gotten excited!" 
Congratulations to the Winners!! Spectrum Girls for the grabby Lavvy sock and Sharp Transition for their Flag project.

The Northeast Region recently celebrated the completion of the Identity Development in Youth Project. The Project involved the implementation of the Identity Project Curriculum which focused on giving juvenile justice involved youth a voice as a contributor exercising self-determination within the juvenile justice system. This project placed a focus on positive youth development with the goal of reducing ethnic and racial disparities in the juvenile justice system. The pictures above reflect the posters made by RFK students. One picture contains posters made by students reflecting their heritage and culture, another is a specific poster done by a youth of Dominican heritage, and the third picture contains cards they completed sentences starting with I AM... then BUT I AM NOT.


Western Region hosted their First Annual Gardening Day. Each program received their "kits" consisting of raised beds or flower pots, fertilizer, and soil. Sosten Longu, the western regional horticulture teacher, brought the plant seedlings and that yielded gardens full of great veggies, such as, tomatoes, green beans, cucumbers, peppers, beets, cabbage, carrots, sweet peas, Brussel sprouts, and a variety of flowers as well.  Sosten supported the students and their gardens throughout the growing season. He made himself available during each program's weekly Open Office Hours and created video tutorials to help support this work as well.

DataMattersData Matters

In the 8 months since Massachusetts first declared a state of emergency in March 2020 due to the outbreak of COVID-19, there has been a decline in the number of youths served by DYS. 

The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted the juvenile justice system from arrests through commitment to DYS care and custody and post discharge for the YES (Youth Engaged in Services). While DYS has had more discharges than commitment, detention, and overnight arrest admissions during the first 6 months, there has been an uptick in the number of admissions since October.
Voting for DYS Youth
In 2001, Massachusetts enacted a constitutional amendment barring persons from voting who were "incarcerated" in a "correctional facility" due to a "felony conviction".  On October 7, 2008 and on July 31, 2012, the Elections Division of the Secretary of State's ("SOS") Office and the Attorney General's Office provided DYS with an opinion that this exclusion does not apply to persons 18 years or older in DYS custody.  The SOS offered to notify the Massachusetts city and town
Elections Clerks of this opinion should that be necessary.

Eligibility Criteria
Under G.L. c. 51, §1, a person may register to vote if each of the following criteria is met:
  1. the person is 18 years old by the date of the general election 
  2. the person is a Citizen of the United States; and
  3. the person is a resident of Massachusetts.
For the 2020 Presidential Election, DYS Caseworkers were identified as the lead to ensure that all youth old enough to vote (18 years of age by 11/3) were informed about voting and - if interested in voting - develop a voting plan.  The Caseworker worked in conjunction with other staff (residential staff, clinicians, community provider staff, educational staff, Life and Career coaches, ECCs...etc.) to make this happen. 
DYS collaborated with MassVote and held three informational Voting Q&A sessions. We asked that as many staff as possible from an office attend a Q&A session - and at the very minimum, one staff person attends and then shares the information with their team. 
In coordination with Common Cause and Citizens for Juvenile Justice, DYS hosted a Voting Outreach webinar. The webinar was an opportunity for our young people to hear from community members, including those with lived experience in the criminal justice system, about voting. Young people were able to ask questions and learn more about the voting process. The webinar was streamed live into many residential programs. 
As part of this campaign, staff and youth were given A Guide for Voting for DYS Youth, information on the Ballot Questions, as well as an FAQ. 
This campaign was a success and we thank everyone who was involved in this civic process!
Click the links below for more information and FAQs:
virtualcoffee(Virtual) Coffee with the New Assistant Commissioner for Program Services, Luz Valverde
Luz Valverde - Assistant Commissioner for Program Services
Assistant Commissioner Luz Valverde joined the DYS team in July 2020 with over 25 years of experience as an educator and school administrator in several Massachusetts school systems. She has a deep commitment to young people from disadvantaged communities and social justice. She brings experience collaborating with families and building partnerships. Her credentials include an Ed.D in Education from the University of Massachusetts Boston, two Master's Degrees in Education and Education Administration and certifications from the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.
What made you want to join the DYS family?
I was sent the description by one of the teachers who worked at the school I was the principal at. I was very impressed with the mission and vision of DYS, specifically where it talks about sending more well-rounded youth back into their community with opportunities in their hands. That's what triggered me to say 'I want to be part of that. I want to make that happen and make that a reality for youth.'
What were some key takeaways/challenges/lessons learned from your previous positions in the Boston and Andover School Systems that you were able to bring here to DYS with you?
Even though, in this position, I am not working directly with youth. I understand how youth of color think, how they need to be talked to and treated. I have learned a lot from the kids. When I was a principal of school- I took an underperforming school to be the number one in the state which allowed for new opportunities for my students. I wanted to take that experience and make a similar goal in my position here at DYS by opening new doors for our youth who are going back into the community
What career accomplishment makes you most proud?
I'm the youngest of 6 and when we get together as a family- it always gets brought up that I'm the youngest and the one who has completed the two masters and PhD. But my career is not about how much education I have, it's about touching the lives of the students and I was able to inspire those kids. If I, who came from another country, can learn English as a second language and accomplish this much- they have the opportunity themselves. I feel that I can go anywhere in Boston and run into my old students and proudly talk to them about where they are now and what doors we opened. I keep in touch with students that I had in 1986. I saw a student a couple years ago who said, 'I just want to tell you that all because of you I am doing my masters'. I think my relationship with the students in my past and how I had an impact on them is one part of my life that I am most proud of.
As an educator, what is a unique skill you brought to DYS?
Trying to make sure what we provide in Spanish is well done. Knowledge, in terms of understanding how Hispanic families work and how you can earn their trust.
What are some things you would like to change now that you are here and learning more about the system and how it works?
It's not so much about changing; it's about making things a reality. Making our policies a reality. I'm going to focus on education- this is a great opportunity to push our youth to the maximum. Make sure the youth are going back to the community leave with new skills and make sure they know that if they work hard, doors will open for them. We want to give our kids the confidence to say 'I can do this' and reach their own goals.'
Do you have any long-term goals?
Make sure we can get the best of them and give them the best of us.
What is a non-professional fun fact you can share about yourself?
I sew- I make quilts! What makes quilting fun, is that I have a 100-year-old sewing machine- it's much better than the electrical machines. I also like to read, so I spend a lot of time reading. 


The Fresh Produce Project was started more than a year ago, to study whether food loss and food cost can be reduced by ordering the amount as needed. Currently, most DYS food is ordered from national suppliers or distributors that will only accept bulk orders for each delivery. With that requirement, DYS found itself with unavoidable produce waste due to prolonged freezing or refrigeration.
Almost a year ago, the Metro Food Service team was able to engage a couple of local distributors who accepted smaller orders and could provide multiple deliveries during the week. This local supply chain allowed Metro food service to order the quantity they needed for just a few days and shortened the time necessary for storage and refrigeration. Savings were realized when perishable produce don't get damaged because of storage and refrigeration.
During the pilot, Metro Food Services was able to partner with two local distributors with Jason DiMare, Food Service Supervisor at Metro Youth Service Center, overseeing the process. The outcome was promising. Jason and his team were able to lower the food cost and waste by ordering smaller quantities for each delivery. There was the added bonus for the youth who got to enjoy more seasonal fruits and vegetables that were locally grown.
This is a model that DYS hopes to replicate in other parts of the state.  Next step will be to identify local food distributors that are interested and willing to work with DYS to supply the DYS residential programs in each of our regions. 

prp2020 Performance Recognition and Commissioner's Awards Recipients
Each year, state employees throughout the Executive Branch are recognized, by the Governor, for their extraordinary contributions to public service. These employees, whether individual or in a group, are nominated by their colleagues (supervisors or peers) based on their performance.
The Department of Youth Services received numerous nominations for employees who have gone the extra mile, showing the highest commitment to service, and motivating and influencing fellow employees.
Please see the list of our PRP recipients below!
Single Recipients of PRP:
  1. Rena Andreotolla of the Northeast Region
  2. Christopher Rance of the Northeast Region
  3. Liz Osorio of the Northeast Region
  4. Steve McGrath of the Northeast Region
  5. Leigh Bigger of the Southeast Region
  6. Karine Martirosyan of the Central Office
Group Recipients: 
1. Personal Protective Equipment Team:
  • Matthew Cole
  • Kerry Lubin
  • Cheryl Assad
  • Tiffany Mulligan
  • Michael Lynch
  • Vincent Provencher
  • Patricia Gauthier
  • Francisco Portela
  • John Griffin
  • Brian Richer
  • Leonard Beatty
  • Nicholas Bound
  • Lynne Allen
  • Joseph Hogan
  • Eugene Deutsch
  • Betty Ann McDonald of UMass Medical; 
  • Dana Sullivan, James LeBlanc and Rasheem Grant of EHS
2. Southeast Region - Boys of the Past, Men of the Future, Facilitation Team:
  • Molly Martinsen
  • Blake Youngblood 
  • Astrid Silva
  • Misipaga Pese
  • Anthony Smith
  • Roy Cruthrid
  • Wallace Majette
  • Ryan Walsh.
3. Southeast Region Screening Team:
  • Antonio Nazario
  • Donald Glass
  • Erin Walsh
  • Julius Suba
  • Christopher Moore
  • Luis Cotto
  • Nitesh Naidu
  • Yves Louis
4. Human Resources Workforce Team:
  • Robin McTomney
  • Stacey Graves
  • Charlotte Williams
  • Andrea Wilk
  • Melissa Ouellette
  • Dorinda Korlacki
  • Kaitlin Hughes 
5. The Paul T. Leahy Center Campus:
  • Alisa Samuels
  • Pat Murray
  • John Flaminio
  • Stephen Zablocki
  • Charlie Distefano
  • Oliver Palacios
  • Julie Berube
  • Pedro Martel
  • Trevor Smith
  • Frank Ojeda
  • Mathias Correa
  • Javier Colon
  • Nick Bradley
  • Jason Tardiff
  • Matt Millett
  • Peter Dyer
  • Phong Dao
  • Doug Ducat
  • Jonathan Sawyer
Our annual Commissioner's Awards Event to recognize staff throughout our agency and staff working for our provider partners will be virtual this year due to the COVID-19 Pandemic. As Commissioner Forbes said back in September, our staff have stepped up and ensured that our core operations have been carried out at a high level despite having to work through the combination of the pandemic and social unrest related to racism. We will be hosting the ceremony on Monday, December 14 via WebEx.

Please see the Commissioner's Award winners below:

Central Region
  • John Dunphy - State Award
  • Monica Ferraro - State Award
  • Rudy Kolaco - Youth Voice Award
  • Randy Mercedes - Youth Voice Award
  • Mark McDevitt(JRI) - Provider Partner Award
  • SE Asian Coalition of Central MA - Community Partner Award
Metro Boston Region
  • Steve Geter - State Award
  • Alex Geter - Youth Voice Award
  • Caryn Coyle , Boston Children's Hospital - Provider Partner
Northeast Region
  • Nadia Kury, State Employee Award
  • Dawn Perron(STRIVE) - Youth Voice Award
  • Mary Tormey (JRI) - Provider Partner
  • Gary Bent(Town of Middleton, Veteran Services) - Community Partner
Southeast Region
  • Southeast Maintenance Team( Gary Choate, Brian White and James Andrade) - State Award
  • Mark Rocha(Eliot/Teamworks) - Youth Voice Award
  • Beth Martin (CES) - Provider Partner Award
  • The Heal Center, New Bedford - Community Partner
Western Region
  • Lorrie Bobe - State Award
  • Deric Suttles - Youth Voice
  • Christine Plumb(JRI) - Provider Partner
  • Mark O'Neil (Straight Ahead Ministries) - Community Partner
Congratulations to all!!
holidaydecoGet Ready for the 2020 DYS Holiday Decorating Contest!
It is that time of the year again! 

Time to get ready for the Annual DYS Holiday Decorating Contest! watch out for an email going out with the official rules and important dates. 

Who is going to win the trophy and topple the defending champs this year?

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