John Stevenson, YRS Director 2018-2021

Photo of Director John Stevenson

It is with great sadness that we share with you the news of the passing of Division of Youth Rehabilitative Services Director, John Stevenson in October 2021

John Stevenson was a role model and someone we all should emulate. Dedicated to public service, committed to the success of children and families, and loved by family, friends, and Delawareans across the state, he was a genuine everyday hero. He dedicated his life to helping others without any fanfare or expectation of accolades.

To send in a quote or kind thought about John to be included on this webpage, please email

John Stevenson’s long career with the State of Delaware began at the age of 19, as a food service worker at the Delaware Home & Hospital for the Chronically Ill in the Department of Health and Social Services (DHSS). In 1987, he took a position as a Youth Care Specialist at Ferris School in Wilmington within the Department of Services of Children, Youth and Their Families (DSCYF). From the moment he walked through the doors of Ferris School, it was undeniable John was someone special. We were privileged he chose to dedicate decades of service to DSCYF.

YRS Director John Stevenson and YRS Deputy Director Renee Ciconte
YRS Director John Stevenson and YRS Deputy Director Renee Ciconte pose for a photo in March 2020.

John worked in various capacities across DSCYF divisions, making an impact every step of his journey. After his time at Ferris, he transferred to Brenford Residential Treatment Center in the Division of Prevention and Behavioral Health Services, where he quickly became the Youth Rehabilitation Counselor Supervisor. Later, he accepted a position with the Early Intervention Unit at Bancroft Elementary School as a Family Crisis Therapist with the Division of Family Services. After that, he returned to the Division of Prevention and Behavioral Health Services where he honed his leadership skills as the program manager for the Terry Children’s Center until he was promoted to Superintendent of the Stevenson House Detention Center.

After retiring with 25 years of service with the State of Delaware in 2015, John accepted a position with the Office of Commitment Facilities for the Maryland Department of Juvenile Services. DSCYF was extremely fortunate when John agreed to return to the Department and become Director of the Division of Youth Rehabilitative Services in 2018. As Director, John fiercely advocated for and built one of the most progressive juvenile justice systems in the nation. John was a skilled, thoughtful, and compassionate leader who exemplified excellence, both personally and professionally. John’s face lit up whenever he recalled stories of the youth and families he connected with through the years. His empathy and passion for helping others were unwavering. Additionally, you could always count on John for a smile to lift you out of the darkest of times; John was an authentic, talented, and caring person who radiated goodness.

YRS and DSCYF Leadership congratulate SJO staff on accomplishment
YRS and DSCYF Leadership congratulate SJO Officer Deanna Carnevale for receiving her Firearms Certification from the Delaware Department of Correction.

John Stevenson has left quite a legacy, and we wish his loved ones strength, support and grace. To honor his memory, we will continue to build upon his work today and for years to come.

Dear John: Messages from YRS Family

John was the kind of person where having a conversation with him could turn your entire day around. Whether trying to solve a problem, respond to a crisis, or just catching up about recent news from around the state, John had a way of talking that left you reassured, confident, and of course, laughing. His attitude was always “we got this!” He was easy to work with and he was the kind of person that you wanted to make sure you did a good job for. – Meredith Seitz, DSCYF Chief Policy Advisor

John will be sorely missed by all. He was a man who helped many lives and changed many for the better.  John was never the loudest person in the room. He didn’t have to be! He spoke based off of experience and with remarkable professionalism. He could get everyone in the rooms attention and understanding even on the most challenging of topics surround criminal justice today. He gave many the opportunity of a fresh start and changed the system that often did not afford those opportunity prior. His presence at both state and local law enforcement levels will surely be missed but his actions and legacy live on. – Inspector Cecilia Ashe on behalf of the Wilmington Police Department