The MAYSI was authored and developed by Thomas Grisso, Ph.D. and Richard Barnum, M.D., at the University of Massachusetts Medical School in the late 1990s. At the time, no normed and validated behavioral health brief screening tool existed for routine use with every youth at entry to juvenile justice facilities and programs.
A grant (1996-1998) from the William T. Grant Foundation provided resources to create the prototype items and format, and to collect data in Massachusetts Department of Youth Services programs. The study created the six-scale structure of the tool, validation through comparison to other measures of child psychopathology, and norms for ages 12 through 17.
The MAYSI was then released for use in Pennsylvania and California, leading to a second norming study by the California Youth Authority. The MAYSI norms were then revised, creating the second version (MAYSI-2) and its manual, the MAYSI-2 User’s Manual and Technical Report, which was published and is distributed by Professional Resource Press.
The MAYSI-2 gained adoption rapidly in many states between 2000 and 2005, largely because (a) juvenile justice programs experienced a need for such a tool, (b) national juvenile justice organizations publicized its availability, and (c) the MAYSI-2 required only a one-time purchase of the manual, not a per-case fee. Rapid adoption allowed the MAYSI-2 Project to obtain data on more than 200,000 youth from over 250 sites across 19 states nationwide, leading to analyses to refine the norms for the MAYSI-2. The MAYSI-2 Manual was revised in 2006 to reflect these new “national norms.”
From 2004 to 2015, the MAYSI-2 Project was funded by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation to participate in its nationwide reform project, “Models for Change: Systems Reform in Juvenile Justice.” The MAYSI-2 played a significant role in assuring that juvenile justice reform efforts increased attention to the developmental and psychological needs of young offenders. During this time, MAYSI-2 became the most frequently-used behavioral health screening tool in juvenile justice in the U.S. See Who Uses the MAYSI-2.
The MAYSI-2 originally was developed for paper-and-pencil administration. During the 2000s, we developed a software version—MAYSIWARE—which was also published by Professional Resource Press. It allowed for administration by personal computers in juvenile justice facilities, visual and auditory display of items, responding by mouse, automatic scoring, and entry of scores in a cumulative database.
By 2014, however, the MAYSI-2 Project could no longer financially support continuous MAYSIWARE software revisions required by progressive changes in the Windows operating system. In 2016, the MAYSI-2 Project contracted with Orbis Partners to offer online administration of the MAYSI-2, and we discontinued the sale of MAYSIWARE. See Methods of MAYSI-2 Administration for information about available administration methods.