Youth At Risk

Sometimes, youth come to our attention because of their own behaviors.  We may get a report alleging a youth:

  • Has been engaging in risky behaviors
  • Ran away from home
  • Has been habitually truant from school (at least 20 days) without good reason

Who Makes These Reports

While these types of reports may be made by anyone, including school staff, they are often made by the parents who are at their wit's end and don't know what to do.  They have no control over their children/youth and are requesting our assistance.

Family Services Involvement

Family Services will generally not get involved:

  • With youth between the ages of 16 and 17.5, unless they are at high risk of seriously harming themselves or others due to problems such as substance abuse, prostitution, or homelessness
  • Until the family has exhausted all other options for help

Before we get involved, we will talk to the family about any local services they have already accessed and refer the family to other sources of possible assistance in their communities. This could include, for example, a school, mental health provider, substance abuse treatment program, or local coordinated services team.

Youth Assessment

If we are able to get involved, the social worker may use the Youth Assessment and Screening Instrument (YASI™) or other assessment tool to: 

  • Identify the youth's strengths and challenges
  • Measure challenges and strengths
  • Establish goals and priorities for behavior change
  • Gain a clear understanding of how the youth and family function as a system
  • Develop a plan for services that address the relevant issues

What Happens Next

Depending on the assessed level of risk, the social worker may:

  • Refer the family to services in their community
  • Provide services to the youth and family
  • Petition the court for temporary DCF custody of the youth

A Balanced & Restorative Justice (BARJ) Approach

BARJ is an approach to juvenile justice that includes both the victims and community in responding to crime and focuses on offender accountability and community safety.

Click here to read more about BARJ.

Family Services Division (FSD)

Deputy Commissioner Karen Shea
DCF - Family Services Division
280 State Drive
Waterbury, VT - 05671-1030
Phone:(802) 241-2131

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