Family Court Programs and Services
At the state level, the NYS Division of Criminal Services Office of Probation and Correctional Alternatives (OPCA) is providing leadership, tools, and training to probation departments across the state to assist in making juvenile justice practice more effective in improving outcomes for youth and their families. Local probation departments are uniquely positioned to coordinate diversion services and supervision to all court referred youth in their counties.
OPCA oversees the provision of juvenile probation services at the county level for matters involving Persons In Need of Supervision (PINS) where probation is designated the lead agency and Juvenile Delinquency.
Probation intake service provides for a range of services before any formal family court action is taken, including conferencing with all interested parties: potential complainants, respondents, and parents. Pursuant to the Family Court Act, intake provides for the potential adjustment and diversion from formal family court action of certain PINS and JD cases.
Intake services typically include case screening and assessment for risk of continued PINS and JD behavior that would lead to further involvement with either the juvenile or criminal justice system. Where there is an attempt at adjustment without family court action, intervention services may include conferencing, counseling , mediation, and other means, and / or referring certain juveniles to other agencies, where appropriate.
Upon order from the family court, probation is responsible to conduct pre-dispositional investigations (PDI) and reports for the court for PINS and JD cases. For JD cases, the Family Court Act requires that these reports include the history of the youth, including previous conduct, the family situation, any previous psychological or psychiatric reports, school adjustment (such as academic performance, behavior), previous social assistance provided to youth by voluntary or public agencies, and the response of the youth to such assistance. For PINS cases, where an investigation and report is ordered, the report generally addresses similar information, including nature of the offense, legal history, family and environment, school, community and peer relationships, alcohol and drugs, physical and mental health, employment, use of free time, attitudes and behaviors.
Probation supervision promotes change in a juvenile's behavior while holding the juvenile accountable to conditions imposed by the family court. The goal of probation supervision is to impact a juvenile's life positively by lessening his/her potential for further delinquent behavior (including the potential for violence).
During the term of probation supervision, the supervising probation officer prepares a case plan. The officer works with the juvenile and the juvenile's family to develop and implement the plan toward successful outcomes for community safety, restitution and reparation of harm done to victims, and for maintaining a law-abiding lifestyle. Probation supervision takes into consideration the services within the community, the youth and family's risks and needs, and community safety.
If the supervising probation officer determines that the juvenile is not compliant with the conditions of his/her supervision during the supervision period, the officer may prepare a violation of probation petition to return the juvenile to family court for further proceedings.