DSCYF Shares Redesigned Website

WILMINGTON – The Delaware Department of Services for Children, Youth and Their Families is sharing the agency’s newly redesigned website.

Launched Thursday, July 29, the website redesign of kids.delaware.gov was in coordination with the Department’s rebranding over the last year, which has included a new, updated logo. Throughout this process, DSCYF worked with the Department of State’s Government Information Center, an internal consultancy to Delaware State Agencies that specializes in website practices, design and digital communications. DSCYF’s redesigned website melds a compassionate, welcoming design with a streamlined navigation.

“We are thrilled to share DSCYF’s newly redesigned website, which has been a focal point of our agency’s rebranding efforts. The look of our website embodies our mission to engage families and communities to promote the safety and well-being of children through prevention, intervention, treatment and rehabilitative services as well as provides a user-friendly experience,” said Josette Manning, Cabinet Secretary of the Department of Services for Children, Youth and Their Families, also known as the Delaware Children’s Department. “I appreciate the work of our Department as well as the Government Information Center to make this redesign a reality. Technology unlocks the potential for innovation and collaboration, and we are excited for other government agencies and the public to utilize and share our redesigned web resources.”

DSCYF’s color scheme, characterized by blue and green hues, is showcased throughout the website and logo. The color scheme represents the Department’s mission, vision and values by evoking a sense of compassion, strength and resilience. The website is also mobile-device friendly and makes strides in accessibility for all viewers to ensure that every citizen has a first-rate digital experience when visiting our Department’s website. The public can view a variety of resources on the website including information on trauma, behavioral health services, juvenile justice and foster care and adoption. Here are key topics and links to highlight:

The Delaware Children’s Department provides services to children who have been abused, neglected, are dependent, have mental health or substance use disorders, and/or have been adjudicated delinquent by the Courts, as well as prevention services targeted toward all youth. It has four divisions: Division of Youth Rehabilitative Services, Division of Prevention and Behavioral Health Services, Division of Family Services and Division of Management Support Services. For more information, please visit www.kids.delaware.gov.

Media Contact: Jen Rini, jen.rini@delaware.gov

Lt. Governor Hall-Long & Former U.S Rep. Patrick Kennedy lead a Discussion on Social and Emotional Behavioral Health

Innovation Center, William Penn High School. – On Tuesday, Lt. Governor Hall-Long joined Patrick and Amy Kennedy and leaders in behavioral health from around Delaware for a round table discussion aimed at improving student mental health. Patrick Kennedy is one of the world’s leading voices on mental health and addiction. He is best known as the lead sponsor of the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act, which was signed into law by President George W. Bush. Amy Kennedy has over 15 years of experience working in public schools. She has seen firsthand how a child’s mental health can impact their ability to learn and grow. Her experiences have shaped her advocacy efforts around social-emotional learning and mental wellness for children and adolescents.  

“Too many children suffer in silence due to the stinging stigma our culture has placed on mental health. As a result, kids and families do not get the help that they need. For their future and for their wellbeing we can no longer afford to fail to provide support and resources for kids who are battling mental illness. Our schools and communities can be a safe haven and conduit for help, and I am committed that we as a state provide the resources to achieve this goal,” said Lt. Governor Bethany Hall-Long.  

Highlighted in the discussion was the topic of how increased investment, at the federal, community, and state-level in mental health services for young people from elementary school through college is critical to the overall emotional health of students.  

“For far too long, we’ve neglected to acknowledge mental health as an essential health,” said former U.S. Rep. Patrick J. Kennedy, founder of The Kennedy Forum. “And we’ve watched rates of overdoses and suicides soar to historic levels—even before the pandemic. The only way to truly confront the gravity of this crisis is to empower our youth with the mental health literacy and cognitive skills they need to face life’s challenges head-on. We have to walk the walk for prevention.” 

Even before the pandemic hit, many students, here in Delaware and around the country, were suffering from mental health conditions, which are only compounded for those who experience trauma from racial disparities, poverty, food insecurity, abuse, and more. I am inspired by the commitment Governor Carney and Lt. Governor Hall-Long are making to ensuring that Delaware’s youth have access to the mental health supports and services they need,” said Amy Kennedy, Education Director of The Kennedy Forum.  “We cannot allow the mental health of our youth to become a secondary priority.   Investing in behavioral health programs, social emotional learning, suicide prevention efforts, and other mental health services will give our young people the tools they need to succeed in school and throughout their lives.” 

Social Emotional Learning (SEL) is the process through which children and adults acquire and effectively apply the knowledge, attitudes, and skills necessary to understand and manage emotions, set and achieve positive goals, feel and show empathy for others, establish and maintain positive relationships, and make responsible decisions. SEL can improve student academic performance, well-being, and lifelong skills, while decreasing students’ anxiety, behavior problems, and substance use.  

In addition to Secretary of Education Susan Bunting, members from the Department of Education outlined how funds from the American Rescue Plan will be utilized to support social emotional learning, multi-tiered systems of support, and increase access to behavioral health services for all students in order to help implement and ensure equitable education for a stronger and healthier Delaware.  

“Our educators, school counselors and school staff members know first-hand how important this work is. They see how what is happening in our communities affects our students and know that our children need their emotional and mental health needs met to be able to focus on academic content. I’m grateful for the support of public and private partners who recognize this and are collaborating to provide these supports and to raise awareness, so these needs always remain in the forefront of our policies, programming and resource allocation,” said Secretary Susan Bunting. 

“We know that meaningful, positive connections can make all the difference in a child’s life. Together, we can foster those connections and support the behavioral health and social emotional learning of children and youth across Delaware. By investing in our children’s well-being, we invest in Delaware’s future,” said Josette Manning, Cabinet Secretary of the Department of Services for Children, Youth and Their Families. “I want to thank Lt. Governor Bethany Hall-Long for her leadership and passion on this topic, and applaud our stakeholders in the Department of Education and former U.S. Rep. Patrick J. Kennedy and Amy Kennedy for their continued advocacy. Discussions such as these elevate child and family well-being and promote innovation and collaboration.”   

There were several other speakers throughout the day with impressive experiences and backgrounds in behavioral health including Pro Tempore Sen. David Sokola, Sen. Nicole Poore, Sen. Sarah McBride, Sen. Marie Pinkney, Rep. Kendra Johnson and Rep. Melissa Minor-Brown; Dr. Jeffrey Menzer (Superintendent of Colonial School District), Jon Cooper (Director of Behavioral Health for Colonial School District), Forrest Watson III and Norwood Coleman (Life Health Center), Khayree Bey (Colonial School District’s 2021 Teacher of the Year and a Lt. Governor’s Challenge 2020 winner), the DOE team (Christine Alois, Susan Haberstroh, Michael Rodriguez and Teri Lawler), and DSCYF Secretary Josette Manning. 



Useful links can be found here:  

Ferris School Lacrosse Team Hosts 2021 Season

WILMINGTON – After a one-year hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Ferris School lacrosse team finished their Spring season strong.

“It has been an incredible experience to see the youth not only in some cases learn a new sport, but also learn about themselves,” said Tanya Banks, Superintendent of Ferris School. “Lacrosse brings together teamwork, sportsmanship, leadership, and resilience. Wins are fantastic – but at the end of the day, the personal growth a youth may feel is the biggest victory of all.”

In this photo, Ferris School and Polytech players and coaches get ready for their game in May.
In this photo, Ferris School and Polytech players and coaches get ready for their game in May.

Ferris School, a Level V secure care juvenile rehabilitation facility, has coordinated a lacrosse team since 2017 when the innovative program was first brought to Ferris, making it one of the first juvenile facilities with a lacrosse team. This year, the Ferris Falcons team and coaches followed DIAA and Delaware Division of Public Health guidance as they finished with a 3-1-1 record. Games were played at Ferris School. Ferris School Coaches Emmanuel Carlis and Douglas Griffin as well as volunteer coaches, Coach Dwaine Taylor, AVP Learning Consultant with Bank of America and Coach Kay McDonough, a former University of Delaware lacrosse player who recently received her doctorate from the university, guided youth through the season.

“I am extremely proud of the Ferris School staff, coaches, and youth for another successful season, especially under such unprecedented circumstances. It took much planning, coordination, and passion from our staff to make this season a reality for youth. It’s been a difficult year, but efforts such as this provide much hope for the future,” said John Stevenson, Director of the Division of Youth Rehabilitative Services, which oversees Ferris School. “When youth leave our care, we want nothing more than for them to have lives full of joy and success. This sports team provides an avenue to build those skills for the future.”

Media Contact: Jen Rini, jen.rini@delaware.gov

Ferris School Recognized as 2021 Finalist for National Juvenile Justice Award 

WILMINGTON – Delaware’s Ferris School has been selected as finalist for the 2021 PbS Barbara Allen-Hagen Award in the juvenile correction program category.

This prestigious annual award, through the national continuous improvement program Performance-based Standards (PbS), is given in three categories: correction, detention, and community residential programs. Programs are recognized based on practices that exemplify commitment to the PbS goal of facilitating positive outcomes for youth, staff and families, and mission of treating all youth in custody as ‘one of our own.’ This is the fourth time since 2017 a Delaware Division of Youth Rehabilitative Services (YRS) program has been recognized as a finalist, with Ferris School, Stevenson House Detention Center and Grace Cottage previously taking home awards in each of the three categories.

“Being selected as a finalist for the Barbara Allen-Hagen Award is a true honor as it once again places Ferris School as one of the top juvenile secure care facilities in the country. I am so proud of Superintendent Tanya Banks, Assistant Superintendent George Iannetta and the entire Ferris team for their dedication and passion to helping youth and staff continue the rewarding work of juvenile rehabilitation while grappling with an unprecedented pandemic,” said Josette Manning, Cabinet Secretary of the Delaware Department of Services for Children, Youth and Their Families, which oversees the Division of Youth Rehabilitative Services. “I wish the team the best of luck as PbS works through the selection process to choose 2021 winners.”

Ferris School Block Party 2020
In 2020, programming highlights at Ferris School included a block party to thank staff for their dedication during the pandemic. In this photo, Ferris School Superintendent Tanya Banks and Ferris School Program Manager Ashley Morse pose for a photo.

All of YRS’ programs voluntarily participate in the Performance-based Standards (PbS) program, which is a national data-driven improvement model that focuses on quality improvement and best practices. The PbS selection committee, made up of youth professionals, researchers, and leaders, will choose the 2021 Barbara Allen-Hagen Award winners over of the next few weeks.

“As the lead juvenile justice agency serving youth ordered to our care through the judicial system, the Division of Youth Rehabilitative Services works tirelessly to coordinate supports to address the needs of youth and factors that contribute to delinquency,” said John Stevenson, director of the Division of Youth Rehabilitative Services. “As someone who began his career in juvenile rehabilitation at Ferris School, I am unbelievably proud of the staff for this recognition. Our work is not easy, but it is a calling, and celebrating moments like this is so important.”

Ferris School, a Level V secure care rehabilitation facility, is an American Correctional Association accredited treatment facility providing services for youth. Ferris School offers a structured learning environment that integrates all elements of rehabilitation: Education, programming, treatment, and therapeutic clinical programs. Offerings for youth also include a one-of-a-kind lacrosse program, music production, religious programming, and on-site student job training. In 2020, some of the programming highlights included adapting to remote education to allow youth to complete credits and graduate; encouraging COVID-19 precautions like masking and social distancing to protect staff and youth; facilitating weekly virtual video calls for youth to see their families; improving coaching and staff support; and facilitating morale boosting activities for staff. Morale activities included a block party to thank staff for their dedication during the pandemic; the Ferris Prize Patrol, where staff recognized their colleagues for exceptional work; and the Ferris Unity Board, where staff and youth shared positive experiences.

“I know the pandemic has been extremely difficult, but we were able to move forward through the comradery and commitment to youth success,” said Tanya Banks, Ferris School Superintendent. “I want to thank my team for their unwavering commitment and creativity in adapting in COVID and helping our youth on their rehabilitative journey. Being selected as a finalist once again for the Barbara Allen-Hagen Award is an incredible honor that we do not take lightly.”

For more information on the Division of Youth Rehabilitative Services, visit our website:

Ferris School Block Party 2020
In 2020, Ferris School organized a block party to commemorate the hard work and dedication of staff. This photo features Ferris School Assistant Superintendent George Iannetta and Rev. Mark Gardner, Ferris School Volunteer Coordinator and Chaplain.


Delaware’s Barbara Allen-Hagen Award Winners

Stevenson House Detention Center in Milford (detention) – 2019

Grace Cottage in Wilmington (community residential) – 2017

Ferris School in Wilmington (correction) – 2017

Media Contact: Jen Rini, jen.rini@delaware.gov

Incident at Ferris School Results in Property Damage

WILMINGTON – The Delaware Children’s Department is reporting an incident at Ferris School that resulted in the significant damage of state property.

Ferris School is a Level V locked secure facility under the Delaware Division of Youth Rehabilitative Services. Youth committed to Ferris School are identified as serious and/or chronic, repeat offenders who have been deemed amenable to juvenile services and require intensive rehabilitative treatment.

On Saturday, April 24, three youth were involved in a disturbance at the facility. No staff or youth were injured. The incident began as youth were directed to their rooms for bed. At 10:57 p.m., a resident broke open the door to his room. The resident then engaged two additional residents, helping them to break open their doors. Once out of their rooms, the three residents began rioting and damaged state property, including throwing a wooden table against a glass door and attempting to remove phones from the wall.

Because Ferris School is a juvenile rehabilitative facility and youth at Ferris have been deemed amendable to juvenile services, staff are not equipped with pepper spray or other mechanisms which are used for population control in typical prison settings. Therefore, around 11:35 p.m., Delaware State Police entered the building to assist staff and moved the three youth to New Castle County Detention Center where they remain at this time. It’s estimated that about $4,500 of property damage occurred.

Ferris School is divided into specific “pods” for youth. In the locked facility, each youth has a room with a wooden door that was designed by prison architects. This incident, where individual doors were broken open, was the first of its kind. The facility receives regular fire marshal inspections, internal safety inspections and is accredited by the American Correctional Association. Additionally, the facility was adequately staffed for the number of youth present and staffing levels were not a factor in the incident.

“We appreciate the assistance of the Delaware State Police and our staff for working to ensure the safety of Ferris School. We are extremely concerned that this incident occurred and are thankful no staff or youth were injured,” said Josette Manning, Cabinet Secretary of the Delaware Children’s Department, also known as the Department of Services for Children, Youth and Their Families. “Residents of Ferris School have committed serious criminal acts and faced significant trauma in their lives. As a result, their behavior can manifest in aggressive, and sometimes dangerous tendencies. In this case, the youth involved were older teenage violent offenders all of whom have previously received residential rehabilitative services. The safety of our staff and youth is paramount in all that we do, and we will review this incident thoroughly to determine if there are changes that need to be made to ensure this does not happen again.”

Media Contact: Jen Rini, jen.rini@delaware.gov