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Youth Justice


My Child or Young Adult Has Been Arrested. What Happens Now?

The Milwaukee County DHHS CYFS can walk you through the process.


*In the following videos, CYFS is referred to as DYFS.

The Intake Process

The Court Process

The Final Disposition Process


Our Goals

CYFS aims to facilitate positive youth identity development by identifying their strengths, assisting them in exploring a positive future, and supporting them in achieving their goals. Our goal is to enhance the following skills with our youth:

  • Critical thinking
  • Self-regulation
  • Problem-solving
  • Mindfulness
  • Goal setting
  • Interpersonal relationships
  • Enhancing caregiver confidence

By focusing on mental wellness, healing-focused care, alternatives to out-of-home placements, data-driven programming, and integrative approaches that involve all the tools available to DHHS, youth are developing tools and strategies to help them succeed and return to supportive homes and stronger communities.


Our Human Service Workers

Youth justice service workers provide support and advocacy to youth and families during their involvement with CYFS. Service workers assist the youth and family through this process by maintaining consistent contact, monitoring youth progress in programs and services, providing updates to the court, monitoring accountability with court orders, assessing needs with services and supports, and celebrating successes. Service workers are trained to use a developmental approach, Growth Focused Case Management, to youth justice with an aim of facilitating youth growth to positive adulthood. The needs of our young people are addressed through these intentional experiences:

  • Fostering exploration of a positive future
  • Identifying strengths
  • Working with young people to identify their goals
  • Helping young people pursue those goals

CYFS helps youth and families involved in the justice system as soon as they enter. We can provide services while youth await the judge's decision and court outcome, while they are on supervision with the courts, as well as connect them to resources that they can maintain when they are no longer in our care.

Our community network of providers make it possible for us to offer the array of services identified below.


Our Community Network of Providers

Programs and Services

  • Capias Abatement
  • Community Service Coordination
  • Education Restoration and Support Services (i.e., Competency Restoration, Driver's Ed., Tutoring)
  • Global Positioning Systems and Intensive Monitoring
  • Mentoring
  • Parent Advocacy


  • Restorative Justice
  • Sexualized Behavior Services
  • Skill Building Groups
  • Clinical Therapeutic Services: Assessments, Alcohol & Other Drug Abuse Services, Individual, Family and Group Therapy
  • Youth Employment

Out of Home

Placements in temporary shelter, group homes, foster care and residential treatment care as deemed appropriate.

System of Care Services

Eligible services available through our system of care, Children's Community Mental Health Services and Wraparound Milwaukee, Comprehensive Community Services, Birth to 3, Children's Long-Term Support and Children's Community Options Program.

Our Champions Make Change Program

The Champion's Make Change program exists to provide a dispositional placement alternative to Department of Corrections Division of Juvenile Justice Corrections placement for the circuit courts.  

This alternative placement has been intentionally re-designed to provide a comprehensive dialectical behavior therapy informed environment that is built on the foundation of five key components:

  • Imparting skill
  • Acknowledging harm of racial injustice and promoting healing
  • Increasing adolescent growth and brain development
  • Using restorative practices
  • Involving continuous family inclusion

Cream City Credible Messengers Program

CYFS is very proud of our Credible Messengers Program.  Credible Messengers is a mentoring program for youth in the Youth Justice System and youth in the community who may be at risk. This transformative process through which individuals from similar backgrounds, including men and women who themselves may have been justice-involved, engage youth in structured and intentional relationships and activities, provide a positive platform for youth engagement & community voice; and change agents for racial equity and policy on issues that plague the youth, families and community.

Credible Messenger Brochure 

Program Launch Press Release 

Contact DHHS Children, Youth & Family Services

Visit Us

Talk to Us

24-Hour Detention Line

(414) 257-7715

Administrative Contact

(414) 257-7721

Kelly Pethke

Kelly Pethke 

Administrator, Children, Youth & Family Services

Contact for Media Inquiries



1220 W. Vliet St.

Suite 301

Milwaukee, Wisconsin 53205

Our Vision

Together, creating healthy communities.

Our Mission

Empowering safe, healthy, meaningful lives.

Our Values

Partnership, Respect, Integrity, 

Diversity, Excellence

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