The Arkansas Department of Human Services (DHS) Division of Youth Services (DYS) will undergo a restructuring as part of ongoing efforts to improve the juvenile justice system so that it better serves youth and their families. DYS also has a new leadership team.
“Though much work remains to be done, the changes we’re announcing today are fundamental building blocks of a juvenile justice system that is focused on getting youth the services and supports they need to return home and be productive, successful members of society,” said DHS Deputy Director for Children and Families Keesa Smith. “Making sure we have strong leaders who are focused not only on residential treatment but also on what happens before and after a youth leaves those facilities is important, and our new structure will ensure that is a key part of our efforts moving forward.”
Interim DYS Director Michael Crump has been tapped to serve as the permanent director. Crump is a former prosecutor who served as a criminal justice policy advisor to Gov. Mike Huckabee. He has served as an attorney for DHS, an assistant director of Medicaid, and has overseen DHS’s fraud unit. He’s also been through Lean Six Sigma training.
“Michael is completely invested in the DYS transformation efforts because he knows it’s what is best for the youth we serve,” Smith said. “With his skills in management, policy, and process mapping, and his willingness to guide a culture change, he’s the right person to lead these efforts.”
DYS also hired Kimbla Newsom to serve as the DYS deputy director and to run day-to-day operations. Newsom has more than 20 years of experience working with at-risk youth and as a manager in juvenile justice systems in Maryland and Texas. Newsom started at DYS on March 4.
Crump and Newsom are working together to restructure DYS, which currently has assistant directors overseeing two units: residential programs and community-based programs. Under the new structure, DYS will focus more on high-quality treatment, diversion, and aftercare, and holding DYS contractors accountable for meeting the State’s expectations for treatment, safety, and education. Assistant directors will oversee four units in the new structure:
- Case management, which will keep up with youth throughout their time in DYS care and ensure they are getting the services they need and are on track for on-time release.
- Treatment, which will be led by a registered nurse and will have expanded behavioral health clinicians; will oversee intake, development, and implementation of treatment plans, placement, as well as education, vocational and work needs, and aftercare services.
- Diversion, which will work with local courts and community officials to promote evidence-based prevention and early intervention services.
- Service Delivery, Compliance, and Quality Assurance, which will serve the oversight role in ensuring contractors comply with the terms and conditions of their agreements with DYS. This unit also makes sure that youth are safe and promotes quality youth outcomes.
The restructuring will be phased in over the next four months, with the case management and treatment units becoming effective May 1. The remaining units become effective July 1. As part of the restructuring, all jobs within the division will change.
“This restructuring allows us to have more of a management-level focus on what matters – creating a safe system that emphasizes individualized treatment and services, holding contractors accountable, and ensuring judges have strong service options for diversion and aftercare treatment,” Crump said.