The Juvenile Probation Department endeavors, whenever possible, to utilize community based counseling programs, volunteer organizations, day treatment programs, as well as internal departmental services designed to reduce delinquency. The following is a list of diversion and preventative efforts that have been undertaken by the Juvenile Probation Department to stem the tide in delinquency.
Program & Services
An Alcohol & Drug Awareness Program was established for first time offenders charged with Underage Drinking offenses in 1988. (NOTE: These youth do not come under the jurisdiction of the Juvenile Court since these are summary offenses. This is a service provided by the Juvenile Probation Department for the Lehigh County communities with referrals primarily through Magisterial District Judges. Clients pay a fee to participate in this program.) Juvenile Probation Officers instruct the class and provide information to the students concerning the social and legal implications of underage drinking and DUI. Guest speakers are invited to attend, as well as to share their life experiences concerning the toll alcohol and drug abuse has taken on their lives. The program provides defendants with an opportunity to learn about the physiological and sociological effects of the use of alcohol, as well as to provide an assessment of these defendants regarding their use and/or abuse of drugs and/or alcohol, and their need for further treatment. It also gives the defendants an opportunity to avoid a criminal conviction.
The Alpha Program (formerly named "The Program for Women and Families") operates a group counseling program, alternative education program, and parenting classes, through grants and contractual arrangements. The intent is to work with these youth when they are first referred to probation in order to help them deal more effectively with their problems and reduce recidivism.
The program enables juvenile probation clients, ages 13 to 18, to participate in art instruction and art history classes at the Allentown Baum School of Art. The intent of the program is for probationers to realize their personal strengths and enhance their self-esteem through the discovery of artistic talents brought forth by professional instructors. The classes are held one day a week, for two hour sessions, over a ten week period of time. The budding artists are exposed to painting, drawing, pottery, and photography during the ten week art sessions.
Selected juveniles visit local colleges to receive help with homework, join activities, and learn about college enrollment. College Mentoring Program (external link)
These programs are primarily utilized to hold our youths accountable for their delinquent offenses. Whenever possible we also try to find community service opportunities that improve their competencies. CAWS programs
This is an expansion of the school-based program. All school districts and communities in Lehigh County will have probation officers placed in their assigned schools. The primary mission is to involve schools and the communities in the supervision and treatment of juveniles in their towns, neighborhoods, and classrooms. Probation Officers are encouraged to interact with their assigned communities and provide presentations to crime with group and civic associations.
Community based probation officers have taken to the streets with a bicycle patrol to make home and school visits, enhance visibility in the community, and become more accessible for the neighborhood residents.
A panel in which County citizens serve on community panels to decide the consequences for a juvenile charged with minor offenses in order to divert these individuals away from the juvenile justice system. The CJP program provides an alternative method for dealing with first-time juvenile offenders who commit low-level, non-violent crimes. This program was created in 1999 by The IMPACT Project, a local private social service agency, and the Lehigh County Juvenile Probation Department. It was originally funded through a grant, but Lehigh County's Human Services Department now fully funds the program through juvenile probation's budget.
Community based individual and family counseling that address the specific needs of the client and their families.
When a juvenile is first referred to the Juvenile Probation Department, he or she will meet with an Intake Officer from the Court Liaison Unit. It is this Officer's responsibility to discuss the delinquent offense as well as obtain information about the juvenile's background to determine the reason(s) for the child's illegal activity. From the information gathered, the Intake Officer develops a recommendation based on the principles of the Balanced Approach to ensure that the needs of the juvenile, the victim, and the community are being met. Often times, services are implemented at this level to prevent further delinquency by addressing the underlying issue(s). Once this task has been completed, the case is assigned to a Community Based Probation Officer for on-going supervision.
In lieu of continued detention for violations of probation or for a repeat offense which is of a minor nature, youth can be placed under this form of electronic surveillance for up to 60 days.
Selected juveniles are court ordered to perform their community service hours at the woodpile where they cut, split and stack firewood which is then sold by the truckload. The Proceeds are used to pay victims of juvenile crime.
The HEADS UP Program was established to attack drug problems from a preventative standpoint. We in the Juvenile Probation Department have come to realize the importance of presenting a no holds barred outlook on the true damage and destruction that drugs are causing young and old alike. The program is presented by the Narcotics Bureau of the Philadelphia Police Department.
When determined appropriate, private agencies assist the Juvenile Probation Department in supervising and counseling juveniles upon their return from a residential treatment program.
This program has been in place for a number of years. Currently, there are budget funds available for community based counseling, residential placements in foster homes, and group home programs for youth needing services from both Juvenile Probation and Children and Youth Services.
In an effort to reduce the length of stay for youth who need residential treatment, referrals to boot camps and weekend programs are utilized. Additionally, Youth Forestry Camp #3 operates three short-term high impact programs which also help reduce the need for long-term placement.
The Retail Theft Class is a Court operated program under the direction of the Lehigh County Juvenile Probation Department. The class will hold youth accountable for their inappropriate actions while at the same time improve their competencies with an educational component. The class can be used as a diversion in lieu of probation or as a condition of a youth's individual probation. Magistrates can also refer to the Retail Theft Class as part of a disposition including fines, or as a sole disposition for youth charged with retail theft. Referrals may also be accepted from other Juvenile Probation Departments, Police Departments, businesses, and parents.
The Retail Theft class entails youth between the ages of 10 and 18 to be enrolled in a six-hour educational/intervention program as a consequence for committing retail theft(s). The class consists of 12 clients who are first time offenders at the magistrate or probation levels.
School Based Probation is a grant funded program initiated in 1990. This program physically places probation officers in the schools to supervise their clients and interact with teachers and other students on a daily basis. Individual classroom presentations are scheduled as much as possible in order to explain the consequences for illegal behavior so as to deter youth from committing crimes. This program has been a model for other counties throughout the State and it is estimated that millions of dollars have been saved statewide in residential placement costs by providing this type of involvement and supervision.
Lehigh County Juvenile Probation and The IMPACT Project, Inc. are pleased to announce that we have been awarded a two-year grant from the MacArthur Foundation to create and implement School Justice Panels (SJP) for middle school youth in Lehigh County, Pennsylvania. This will be an early intervention program that will target first time offenders whose criminal offense has taken place at one of the four Allentown middle schools. Expansion to other middle schools in Lehigh County will take place during the second year of the grant. The School Justice Panel program is a multi-systemic intervention designed to help juveniles realize their potential while holding them accountable for their behaviors, providing protection to the community, promoting the value of an education, and providing positive role models to ensure positive individual growth.
Any referred youth will attend a meeting with a panel of trained professionals from the various social service agencies and schools in Lehigh County in lieu of going to a district justice or juvenile court hearing. The youth and their family must agree and contract with the panel to complete the terms of their contract and the time frame with which they have to finish the conditions. The elements of the contract are designed to hold a youth accountable, restore the community and victim, and teach competency skills. Referred youth receive a mental health/risk assessment protocol to assist the panel in determining if there are underlying issues that would be better served by one of the other social service agencies in Lehigh County. The ultimate goal is to not only hold the youth accountable, but to divert them, if appropriate, from the juvenile court system.
The Truancy Panel was developed as a truancy prevention program to identify and address concerns with students who are currently displaying attendance issues in school. The Truancy Panel is an early intervention to assist in resolving attendance issues with students that are heading in the direction of involvement at The District Justice level before citations and potential fines for truancy are issued. The panel is comprised of representatives from The Allentown School District including Home School Visitors and Parent Liaisons, representatives from The Offices of Children and Youth and Lehigh County Juvenile Probation, as well as invested community members, advocates, and service providers. Families are brought to the Truancy Panel as identified by the Home School Visitors. The designated Parent Liaison of the student's school completes an intake and assessment packet for the panel during an interview with the family. The panel reviews with the family current barriers and issues leading the students attendance issues and a student-parent agreement is entered into to provide solutions to improving the students attendance. Assistance by community based program is available and referrals are made on an as needed basis. If student's attendance improves then potential further involvement that may result in citations or fines can be avoided.
This partnership between the Office of Lehigh County Mental Health and the Juvenile Probation Department provides a mental health caseworker and a probation officer to jointly and intensively supervise delinquent youth that experience severe MH/MR problems. This team works closely with community based mental health services to assist the client in developing emotional stability while remaining delinquency free. If inpatient or residential care is necessary to address the client's issues, the S.P.O.R.E. team assists the juvenile and his or her family with that process.
In Victim and Community Awareness Classes, probation officers address juvenile offenders' accountability for their crimes. Participation in the classes can help offenders realize that victims are real people with deep emotions and that the impact of their offense on their victims' quality of life may be greater and longer lasting than they originally thought. Through guided group discussion, role plays, worksheets and writing apology letters, offenders are asked to specifically identify who has been affected by their crime and how they can work to repair the harm. To begin the process of reparation, offenders are asked to identify how their victims and community were impacted on physical, emotional, financial and spiritual levels.
The Lehigh County Victim Offender Conferencing Program is a partnership between Lehigh County Juvenile Probation and Crime Victims Council of the Lehigh Valley. It provides unique opportunities for victim restoration and offender accountability with a focus on reconciliation, restitution, and safe communities in Lehigh County.
Violence Prevention classes are run by Cornell Abraxas. The program promotes conflict resolution, anger management, respect for others and effective communication. Two separate classes are held, one for older juveniles 15-18 years old and one for younger juveniles 10-14 years old. The classes are six weeks in length and run for one hour each class.
The Wraparound Process is offered via a referral to youth on probation that face extreme challenges related to behavior and academics. The process is flexible and enables the child and family to have access to appropriate professionals and services, a voice in the decision making process and ownership of the plan.
Lehigh County Court of Common Pleas, 455 West Hamilton Street, Allentown, PA 18101-1614 • (610) 782-3000