The Court Services Unit provides probation services to youths who the Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Court have determined to be delinquent or in need of supervision. A "delinquent" is a youth who has committed an act that would be a crime if committed by an adult. A "youth in need of supervision" is one whose behavior or condition presents or results in a serious threat to his or her well-being or physical safety, such as being truant (absent) from school or running away from home.
The probation counselor has frequent face-to-face meetings and phone contacts with the youth and their family, and gathers background information from the youth, parents, and professionals. The probation counselor develops a supervision plan for each client, based on the individual's and family's needs.
Such options might be parenting classes, psychological and psychiatric evaluations, family counseling, anger management treatment, or other outside services that the probation counselor arranges for the family. In cases where families are unable pay for services, the probation counselor researches funding sources and secures money for those services. Once services are in place, the probation counselor contacts the service provider regularly to assess progress and intervene when problems arise.
Probation Counselor Duties
As an officer of the Court, the probation counselor is ultimately responsible for ensuring the youth's (and family's) cooperation with probation rules and court orders, reporting back to the Court when progress is made or further sanctions are necessary. As such, the probation counselor keeps close tabs on a young person's school attendance and performance, and behavior at home and in the community. In cases where a juvenile is court-ordered to perform community service, the probation counselor along with the Sheriff's Department monitors the completion of the hours and provides documentation to the Court to verify the completion.
In instances involving alcohol or drugs, the probation counselor administers the initial screening for substance abuse treatment and, if applicable, makes the referral for a full evaluation and treatment recommendations. The probation counselor also administers random drug screens to clients during the course of their Court involvement. In some cases, the Court orders that a juvenile be placed on home detention, which requires the youth to inform the probation counselor of his or her whereabouts and to remain at home unless at school or with a parent.
Some juveniles' behaviors or living situations prevent them from being maintained safely in their families' homes, and the probation counselor may determine that an outside placement is necessary. The probation counselor assesses the circumstances to identify whether detention, shelter care, or long-term residential placement is recommended. When a child is placed outside the home, the probation counselor maintains regular contact with the client and staff by phone and face-to-face visits to ensure the well being of the client.
The probation counselor also coordinates support and information sharing for the family during that time. If an adolescent is committed to a juvenile correctional center, the probation counselor handles all arrangements, provides extensive background information, and maintains contact with the client, family and staff during the client's stay. Since the client is at high risk to re-offend or suffer setbacks once returned to the home and the community, the probation counselor coordinates services and support for when the client is released from the facility.