Violation of Probation Prevention (VOPP)

Identified Problem and Targeted Youth

The Violation of Probation Prevention Program addresses the problem of increased referrals of youths for violation of probation by working closely with the schools, and the Juvenile Probation Officers who are responsible for the youth. Youths may be referred to the program by school officials, such as resource officers, guidance counselors, Deans and teachers in coordination with the JPO of the area.

Program Design

The program provides comprehensive, intensive, individualized, strength-based, and family focused services. The main components of the program are intensive wraparound case management and group services. It is a 24 week long program divided into two discrete stages: an initial stage of sixteen weeks involving intensive wraparound case management services and group education/counseling services, and a second stage, the last 8 weeks of the program in which the youth graduates to group supervision. Another aspect of the program will be a career/employment development focus in which representatives of different professions, skills and trade groups talk to the youth regarding the opportunity for employment and life satisfaction in each area and what is needed to succeed. Additionally, an alumni group shall be maintained of graduates who wish to continue involvement with the program by being peer group leaders, guest group presenters, guest speakers at public forums and policy planning activists. Following is a more in-depth description of some of the key components of the program.

Reassessment of the youth’s needs at intake by a panel comprised of a Court Administration Juvenile Justice staff member with a graduate degree in a behavioral science, school and DJJ staff and the youth and his/her family. A family conferencing format will be utilized. For each youth the existing probation plan will be updated to address the current situation. This may include additional community service hours, or identifying additional supportive services such as educational groups, or counseling. Additionally, and an area of interest or aptitude will be identified. Part of the updated plan will be attempts to provide the youth with increased opportunities to participate and develop in those areas.

Comprehensive and individualized services will be implemented by selection from a menu of services from which professionals, family and the youth can choose according to the unique needs of the youth and family. This protocol is patterned on the Reaffirming Young Sisters Excellence program, identified as a promising program by the National Juvenile Justice Network Forum (2007) a project funded by the Office of Juvenile Justice and Dependency Prevention and the Repeat Offender Prevention Program, a SAMHSA model program. The menu will include the following types of services: accountability measures, competence building services and support services. Examples of typical services that might be selected are drug education, anger management skills, rational problem solving skills, individual and family counseling, and substance abuse treatment. As mentioned above due to the large increase of referrals of females to probation gender based services will be provided. Court Administration staff will provide some of these services and some will be obtained in the community.

Intensive wraparound case management services will provide support, linkage, monitoring and ongoing reassessment and refinement of the service plan as needed. Wraparound case management has been identified as a model intervention by the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention. The intensiveness of the program will be implemented by having at least two different contacts with each youth each week, one at the child’s home with the parents present, and one at school with school staff participating for the first 8 weeks of the program. Contacts will be reduced to once a week through week 16 unless there is a problematic occurrence. At that point in time, the youth will be seen only one time each week unless a special need arises. At sixteen weeks into the program, the youth will be transferred to group supervision as a reward for successful participation in the program. Additionally, every week contact will be made with all service providers such as mental health counselors, and community service sites in order to ensure that the youth is complying with all aspects of the probation plan. This occurs until the youth graduates the program.

Group supervision and group educational/counseling interventions will be provided as a way of implementing a graduated supervision model during the program and providing educational/enhancing experiences. The supervision groups will be based upon the restorative justice paradigm. The educational/counseling groups will be based upon best practice models that have been cited by organizations focusing on state of the art practice. A key component of the program will be Social Competency Enhancement. Since each case plan shall be individualized it is not possible to state that every youth will complete this program. However, this intervention is considered a key aspect of the program and it is expected that most youth will do so. As mentioned above, groups shall be selected to match the characteristics of the youths referred to the program and the type of behaviors that initially had them placed on probation. Drug education, anger management, problem solving, goal setting and gender-based groups are most likely the ones that will be offered.