Did you know 65-70% of youth in contact with the juvenile justice system have a diagnosable mental health disorder?

YouthConnect is an innovative and unique program of Boys & Girls Clubs of Boston (BGCB) that provides violence prevention, intervention, advocacy and mental health services to young people who are involved in the criminal justice system and their families. 

By placing licensed, clinical social workers in Boston police stations, YouthConnect works to address the underlying problems and social emotional issues that contribute to juvenile crime and delinquency by working with the entire family, not just the youth. All services are confidential, voluntary and free. Since 1996, YouthConnect has assisted over 16,000 youth and families across Boston. 

Our relationships with both government agencies and community-based providers, allow our staff to then help secure the most appropriate level of care and services needed to help the young person get back on track for a more hopeful future.

YouthConnect’s innovative clinical model enables social workers to not only assist a wide-range of youth, but also help their families. Services are often put in place for the younger children in the family to help ensure their academic and out-of-school time needs are met, and YouthConnect also works directly with the teen’s parent/guardian to address their concerns and needs.

In addition, our staff provide community-based counseling to address issues related to truancy, delinquency, safety, substance abuse, victimization, school performance and family functioning.


We work alongside the Boston Police Department with a focus on the following neighborhoods:

A7 – East Boston

B2 – Roxbury

B3 – Mattapan/Dorchester

C11 – Dorchester

D4 – South End/Lower Roxbury

E13 – Jamaica Plain

We also have a city-wide presence through the Domestic Violence UnitYouth Violence Strike Force, and the School Police Unit.


In addition to police-referred young people, the program also offers services to their siblings and parents. This comprehensive approach allows YouthConnect to focus on the individual while also recognizing the need to provide overall support to families.

Clients will be offered assistance under a four-tiered system that includes:

1. Intake & Assessment

All youths and families that YouthConnect reaches out to are offered voluntary, confidential clinical services. An assessment is provided to determine strengths, needs, and stressors to help inform the appropriate level of service provision.

Assessments also take into consideration families’ own understanding of their needs. If other service providers are already involved with the youth and family, YouthConnect seeks to strengthen these relationships. The youth and family are then moved into one of three tiers below.

2. Resource Coordination

The goal of this tier of support is to connect clients to local social service providers. This involves short-term interventions focused on finding appropriate resources that meet the needs of youth and their families. Interventions may be as short as one interaction with the youth or family.

In this tier, the family is likely to be referred to pre-existing services meeting a variety of needs including recreational, educational, spiritual, employment, legal, and/or mental health needs. The average length of time that individuals are in this tier is from one month to three months.

3. Clinical Case Management

In this tier, youth and families meet weekly with the social worker, who provides guidance and supportive counseling. Clients in this level of service may have pre-existing relationships with major service providers like DYS, DCF, and school based services, however they may not be aware of which services are in place and how to best utilize them.

YouthConnect social workers help facilitate case conferences to bring providers and systems together to identify roles and coordinate culturally appropriate care given the needs of the family.

In some cases, clients prefer initially not to engage in formal service contracts with providers and feel more comfortable accepting services through the YouthConnect social worker. This tier is openended and aims to create a safety net of services for the youth and family. The average length of time that individuals stay in this tier is usually anywhere from six months to a year.

4. Therapy Services

Youth and their families engage in therapy for a variety of issues. In this tier, youth have weekly individual sessions and family meetings are held monthly.

Often clients have some ambivalence about working with traditional agencies; YouthConnect’s capacity to provide home and community-based visits, in addition to flexible scheduling, has enabled hard-to-reach youth and their families to access social services despite barriers to traditional mental health services such as: insurance issues, distrust of providers and systems, transportation, safety, stigma around seeking help, and readiness to engage around making changes. On average clients engage in this type of treatment from one to three years, however the length of time is driven by treatment goals created with the participants.


Since the program’s inception in 1996, YouthConnect has provided more than 16,000 individuals with a variety of intervention services designed to their specific needs and goals.

Strengthening Families

1,045 high-risk youth were offered support services through a YouthConnect social worker in 2019

46% of youth were referred for family-related concerns

Reducing Risky Behaviors

51% of clients were identified by BPD as engaging in risky behaviors at the time of referral

54% of clients expressed safety concerns during the intake process

Increasing Support Services

1,016 referrals were made to existing resources in Boston

The most referrals were made to mental health, summer employment, and basic needs last year


Boys & Girls Clubs of Boston Names Kevan Barton Executive Director of YouthConnect

5 Reasons To Attend This Year’s 2021 Virtual YouthConnect Partnership Breakfast

Celebrating Executive Director Andrea Perry’s 22 Years at YouthConnect

Employee Spotlight: Joanna Celia, YouthConnect LCSW

6 Reasons To Attend This Year’s Virtual YouthConnect Partnership Breakfast

YouthConnect Partnership Breakfast – Tickets

YouthConnect Partnership Breakfast Wednesday, November 3, 2021 | 8 a.m. This year, we are pivoting to a virtual format to celebrate YouthConnect’s 25 years of helping our communities’ most at-risk…


Executive Director – Kevan Barton

Local Advisory Board

  • Joshua Klevens, Chair
  • Ron Ansin, Honorary Chair
  • Alexandra Bailey
  • Laurence S. Chud, MD
  • Mayur Desai
  • Mike Gass
  • Kelly Gross
  • Kanasha Herbert
  • Weston “Tony” Howland III
  • Jill Reilly
  • Tracy Richmond
  • Elizabeth Silverman
  • Madeleine Smith
  • Donald K. Stern
  • Robert Sweet


For more information, please contact Denise Kasrawi, LICSW, Clinical Director at dkasrawi@bgcb.org or 617-541-1894 or Kevan Barton, Executive Director at kbarton@bgcb.org or 617-516-5400.