Juvenile Probation – Programs and Services
Adolescent Sexual Offender Treatment
Juvenile Court Services provides out-patient treatment to children and adolescents with sexual issues. Specially trained clinicians provide services to youth who have a history of sexually inappropriate behavior, or those who have been sexually victimized. Treatment intervention for sex offenders or victims combines cognitive, affective, and behavioral approaches in community-based settings or as an additional service to those in more restrictive settings. Varying levels of care are available, including: assessment, intermediate, maintenance, group therapy and aftercare.
Aftercare is the type of probation that is instituted when a juvenile offender is released from a placement facility. These facilities may include drug and alcohol treatment, mental health programs, foster care, life skills programs and even a secure detention facility. The purpose of aftercare is to ensure that the juvenile is successfully reintegrated back into the community with as little problems as possible. To assist in the reintegration of the juvenile the probation officer along with the placement facility treatment team, school district officials and parents/guardians develop a plan prior to the release of the juvenile. This plan may include community based services along with additional rules and conditions that may aide in the successful reintegration of the juvenile back into the community.
Probation Officers are available to speak to agencies, community groups and schools to provide information on Juvenile Court Services. Newsletters are also available to inform the public about Juvenile Probation.
Probation Officers organize and supervise community service projects for juveniles on probation. Juvenile Probation works closely with non-profit agencies and organizations in Wyoming County to arrange meaningful community service work for our youth.
Drug and Alcohol Education
Juveniles who are court ordered to undergo alcohol education attend a course entitled Pennsylvania Underage Alcohol & Other Drug Education Program, which was developed by the Pennsylvania Department of Health.
The mission of the program is to promote the well being of high risk youth by educating young offenders about the risks and consequences of alcohol and other drug use and helping to strengthen their decision-making communication and coping skills.
The program advocates positive decision-making and reduction of recidivism by the presentation of accurate information, use of an interactive journaling process, group process, and the application of self-change and motivation strategies.
Drug and Alcohol Evaluation and Treatment
Juveniles who are court ordered to participate in a drug and alcohol evaluation must do so within a specified period of time. Juveniles are ordered to follow through with any and all recommendations contained within the evaluation.
The court may order the juvenile to undergo the evaluation at a specific drug and alcohol agency; however, in some cases families may choose a drug and alcohol agency or therapist of their choosing. The evaluation determines what level of care, if any, is needed, with one or more of the following recommendations:
- No services needed.
- Drug and alcohol education classes
- Out-patient drug and alcohol counseling with individual and/or group sessions.
- In-patient drug and alcohol treatment.
Drug and Alcohol Intensive Probation
The specialized Intensive Probation Officer for drug and alcohol offenders has a caseload size of no more than fifteen (15) juveniles. The caseload may include the following types of clients:
- Juveniles referred on the basis of a violation of the Controlled Substance, Drug Device and Cosmetic Act;
- Juveniles who were under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time of their offense;
- Juveniles who have a history of drug/alcohol abuse;
- Juveniles whose assessment indicates that they are at risk of drug/alcohol abuse;
|Each juvenile assigned to specialized intensive probation supervision initially has three face to face contacts per week with the Specialized Intensive Probation Officer, at least one (1) of which occurs on weekends or otherwise outside normal business hours. (A contact is defined as a face to face meeting, a telephone contact, or written report.) After six weeks of satisfactory adjustment to probation, the number of face to face contacts will be reduced, if warranted and approved by the Chief Probation Officer.|
There is a minimum of one (1) contact per week with the parent (s) or guardian(s) of each juvenile assigned to intensive probation supervision via face to face or telephone. However, a face to face meeting with the parent occurs every two weeks.
There is one contact (1) contact every two (2) weeks with the juvenile’s school, other social service providers, employer, and significant others, if appropriate.
Each juvenile assigned to specialized intensive probation supervision is court-ordered to undergo drug and alcohol testing, on a random basis, to determine the presence of alcohol, nonprescription controlled substances, and any mind-altering substances in his/her body.
Each juvenile is closely monitored to ensure that he/she is adhering to the court order which outlines specific tasks he/she must comply with and/or complete before being discharged from probation. Additionally, juveniles must adhere to standard conditions, rules, and regulations which govern their conduct while on probation. Specialized intensive probation supervision under this program is usually between six (6) to (12) months.
Each juvenile is subject to undergo drug testing if so ordered by the court. Drug testing is conducted on a random basis to determine the presence of alcohol, non prescription controlled substances, or any other mind altering substances in the juvenile’s system.
Drug testing is usually administered by the probation department. The juvenile provides a urine sample which is analyzed for substances such as marijuana, opiates, depressants, stimulants etc. If a juvenile challenges the validity of the test, the sample is shipped out to a contracted laboratory for confirmation. If confirmation proves positive for usage the juvenile incurs the full cost of laboratory testing.
The probation office also administers breathalyzer testing for those suspected of alcohol usage. Juveniles may also be escorted or directed to a hospital to undergo drug testing for synthetic non-controlled substances. These tests are administered by securing samples of urine and/or blood. If the juvenile is dishonest regarding usage, they will incur the full cost of testing.
Electronic Monitoring is a valuable tool a juvenile probation officer may utilize to aide in the supervision of juveniles while under the supervision of juvenile probation. Should the juvenile violate conditions of his/her probation, have a history of running away or is in need on a more intensive supervision plan, then electronic monitoring may be used.
An electronic monitoring unit consists of a tracker or ankle bracelet and a home based unit connected to a telephone line. A time schedule is put into place indicating when the juvenile may leave his/her home to attend school, appointments, work and other necessary appointments.
Should the juvenile not adhere to the times scheduled, the juvenile probation office is notified through fax, email or telephone. Not adhering to the electronic monitor schedule may be considered a violation of the conditions of probation and the appropriate action is taken. This action may include a more restrictive time schedule or placement in a facility.
Juvenile Court Services Family Preservation Program is designed to prevent out-of-home placement for at-risk youth, reduce the length of placement should out-of-home care become necessary, and decrease the rate of recidivism for youth who have been in residential care.
A team of therapists, who are on-call 24 hours, provide consistent structure, supervision and treatment. These professionals meet with families, teachers, counselors, employers, probation officers, and others involved with the youth in different settings and at various times of the day and night. These professionals implement a behavior modification system, provide family counseling, develop individual treatment plans and utilize community resources.
General Probation Supervision
General Probation Supervision is the supervision of juvenile offenders while they continue to reside within the community. The juvenile probation officer maintains regular contact with the juvenile, parents, school officials and various services within the community if necessary. These contacts are typically face to face but may be either by telephone, email or other means.
The purpose of the supervision is to ensure adherence to the rules of conditions of probation, the fulfillment of a financial obligations, and the continuance of lawful behavior within the community.
Juvenile Court Services Independent Living Program is designed to assist young offenders by advocating, teaching, training, demonstrating, monitoring and/or role modeling new, appropriate skills in order to enhance self-sufficiency. Services allow for the youth to develop skills based on experiential learning and the youth’s needs as identified through assessment and mentoring.
Intake and Assessment
Juvenile Probation Officers conduct in-person interviews with the juvenile and his/her parents and gather information from sources such as schools and counseling agencies to determine the specific needs of the juvenile. This information is used to make recommendations to the Court regarding disposition.
Mental Health/Mental Retardation Intensive Probation
In 1999, Juvenile Court Services created the position of mental health/mental retardation intensive probation officer in response to the rising number of juveniles under supervision who were involved with mental health agencies and support services.
The maximum number of offenders this probation officer can supervise at any given time is limited to twelve (12) and the officer is required to see each offender a minimum of three (3) times per week. Offenders on this caseload often have diagnosis such as Attention Deficit Disorder, Bipolar Disorder, Depression and Mental Retardation.
They are often involved in community-based programs such as Luzerne/Wyoming Counties Mental Health/Mental Retardation Program, MST, and Family Preservation. The mental health probation officer frequently serves as a liaison between these agencies and the Court.
Multisystemic Therapy (MST)
MST is an intensive family and community based treatment model that addresses multiple aspects of serious antisocial behavior in juvenile offenders. This approach attempts to address the many factors that are known to contribute to delinquency within the areas where offenders live, work and attend school.
The typical duration of treatment is approximately four (4) months, which includes approximately sixty (60) hours of therapist-family contact. Therapists are accessible to the offenders and their families 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
MST therapists work closely with the family to promote the parent’s capacity to monitor the juvenile and provide effective discipline. MST can be used to prevent residential placement or as an aftercare tool when youth are leaving a residential facility.
Placement, or removing a juvenile from his home, when they commit a serious crime and/or violate his/her probation, is an option available to the Court. Placement can be as restrictive as a Youth Development Center (YDC), which houses the most violent offenders in the juvenile system, or as least restrictive as a foster home.
Juvenile Court Services recommends placement of juveniles as a last resort and will employ this option only when all community-based choices have been exhausted or when the safety of the community/juvenile is in jeopardy.
Currently, placement facilities used by the Court are located as near as Scranton and as far away as Erie. Where a juvenile is placed depends upon matching their needs to the treatment programs that are available. The length a juvenile can spend in placement ranges from several days to over one (1) year depending on their progress, attitude and his/her willingness to change the problem behaviors.
Common services available in placement facilities include treatment for sexual offending, drug/alcohol addiction, fire setting behavior, aggression/violent behavior, and complex mental health disorders.
A Juvenile Probation Officer is assigned to a specific school district in order to have frequent contact with juveniles on probation, teachers, guidance counselors and school administrators.
Having a probation officer in the school on a regular basis has been shown to increase grades and positive school reports as well as decreased absenteeism, tardiness, school discipline referrals, the drop-out rate, the number of detentions and suspensions, out of home placements, and re-arrests. Currently, we have one School-Based Probation Officer for Lackawanna Trail School District
Victim Impact/Violence Awareness Education
Juvenile Court Services contracts with the Victims Resource Center of Northeastern Pennsylvania to conduct the Victim Impact/Violence Awareness Class on at least two (2) occasions throughout the year.
Referrals to the class come from the Juvenile Court, local District Court Judges, and the local school districts. Youth who are referred to the class typically have committed a crime of violence. Classes consist of ten (10) two (2) hour sessions held at the Tunkhannock Area High School. One of the classes includes a tour of the Wyoming County Correctional Facility.
Topics of class discussion generally include the following: Violence Awareness, Anger Recognition, Anger Management, Victimization Awareness, Empathy, Problem Solving, Communication, and Self-Disclosure.