BOSTON (WWLP) — Massachusetts is overhauling the way it handles troubled kids.
Governor Deval Patrick privately signed a bill that changes the state's Children In Need of Services program, also known as CHINS.
Advocates have been lobbying for years to reform the system that they believe deals harshly with Massachusetts youth, who frequently skip school or runaway from home.
This new legislation creates a network or family resource centers, across the state where kids can receive social services; it requires school districts to come up with programs to prevent kids from skipping class; and it transfers responsibility of handling troubled kids from the juvenile court system to the state's Health and Human Services office.
According to advocate Cassandra Bensahih of the EPOCA, “We fight for these changes because we know that there are some kids that would be able to utilize all the services, be it Big Brother, Big Sisters, counseling, family therapy, whatever it might take.”
The previous system relied on the juvenile court system to supervise troubled kids.
Parents and advocates complained that involving their kids in the court system early did not address their social problems and paved a direct route to prison.
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