by Donna McBride, Program Administrator/Public Information Officer, CASA Unit of Pinal County Juvenile Court
Pinal County Juvenile Court Service’s mission is to create positive growth opportunities by implementing programs that empower youth and strengthen families while improving community safety using evidence-based practices.
A great example of this is our use of a specialized caseload that provides wrap-around services to the youth and families found to need increased support and resources.
This collaborative team approach includes a probation officer, a surveillance officer, and a therapist who work directly with the youth and families to develop skills to increase the likelihood of positive change and reduce continued delinquent behavior.
The team assists with building on natural supports, incorporates the strengths of the family in case planning, and connects youth and families to community resources available once probation services are no longer needed.
Take Colin for example. Shortly after the pandemic hit, Colin was placed on standard probation in the high-risk specialized caseload. He was a teen with strong connections to a negative peer group. He faced many challenges, lacked family and community support, as well as structure and guidance at home. Probation quickly learned he struggled with time management, communication, emotional regulation, and problem-solving. He was overwhelmed by the expectations of probation and managing his education.
While on probation, Colin had a team of people supporting, encouraging, teaching, and leading the way to help him make positive behavior changes. He received counseling services, life skills and focused on changing his behaviors. He worked hard at the goals he set for himself, including probation and treatment goals along with completing restitution hours.
Colin started exhibiting accountability, increased communication with his team and was open to feedback. His team believed in his ability to be successful and given support, tools, and time he believed in himself. Colin was released from probation successfully.
Overall, we are seeing positive outcomes for youth who complete the specialized program; lower rates of recidivism, going to detention, and greater decreases in risk scores.
We are fortunate to work in a department that is innovative in exploring ways to improve outcomes for youth, families, and ultimately communities in Pinal County.
For more information go to www.pinalcountyaz.gov/JuvenileCourtServices