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Ninth Judicial Circuit Court

FIELD SERVICES

The Family Division's Field Services' function is to ensure that juvenile offenders who come within the jurisdiction of the court comply with all court orders. Direction and guidance are provided to the individual and family to encourage behavior consistent with the norm of the community. The monitoring and guidance is a multifaceted approach using a variety of treatment methods as well as interacting comprehensively with the community and other agencies.

Juveniles who come within the jurisdiction of the court may be placed on probation with specific orders directed at both the juvenile and parent. As part of the investigation process, juvenile probation officers develop treatment plans aimed at changing behavior with probation orders designed to support the plan.

The rules of probation are designed to be practical, appropriate and realistic for juveniles to accomplish. The rules of probation are tailored to the individual, keeping in mind the family, the victim, and the safety of the community.

For individuals who violate the court order (parent or child), graduated sanctions have been developed in response to the violation. A number of graduated sanctions can be imposed beginning with restriction of privileges and community service, and ultimately more restrictive placement.

Field Services is composed of programs that provide direct services to juvenile offenders and their families:
1. Moderate Probation Program
Standard probation provides monitoring and treatment to juveniles and families that are under the jurisdiction of the court. These probation officers are case managers using the resources in the community to assist in the implementation of the treatment plan. Direct contact is made with the juvenile offender and the family to work on issues that are problematic. In addition to working with the community and providing guidance to families, the probation officer is responsible for monitoring and enforcing the orders of the court, preparing and submitting hearing reports, attending court hearings, and giving testimony or recommendations for every case.

2. Intensive Probation Program
Intensive probation is designed to serve high-risk probationers. These juveniles are often repeat offenders or have committed a more serious offense and are at risk of institutional placement. In order to prevent further delinquent activity, contact and supervision is maintained at a minimum of three times per week with the emphasis on accountability and responsibility. The probation officer has direct involvement with family and community.

3. In-Home Detention Program.
The In-Home Detention program serves as a cost-effective alternative to detention, operating at both the formal and non-formal level of the system under the supervision of juvenile probation officers. Juveniles who have been detained, sign a release contract and are returned home under strict rules and close supervision. If the rules of the release contract are violated, the juvenile may immediately be placed in detention.

The use of electronic monitoring is a very cost-effective alternative to out-of-home placement or detention. This program gives juveniles the opportunity to reside in their own homes and attend school while accountability and supervision are maintained.

4. Foster Care Program.
The foster care program has a number of licensed foster homes. Approximately thirty youth per year are placed in foster care through this program. All homes undergo thorough investigation, record checks and training before being licensed. The Ninth Circuit Court Family Division is licensed by the Department of Human Services as a child-placing agency. The court accepts new applications for foster parenting and makes recommendations for licensure to the Department of Consumer and Industry Services. The licensed homes are used as placements for court involved youth. Boys and girls, aged 10-17, are placed in foster care as a result of their home situation, requiring treatment intervention in order to be safe and appropriate. Foster care placements are not intended to be permanent or long term in most cases. Our goal, whenever possible, is for family reunification to take place.

The foster care program is very cost-effective compared to other out-of-home programs averaging approximately $30 per day versus $240+ for institutional placement. The goal of the program is to provide an opportunity for youth to be placed in a safe environment where they can work on issues and behaviors that necessitated their out-of-home placement. Most youth return to the home of their parents following successful foster care placement.

With the difficult problems and issues that these teens bring with them to foster care, fewer children are placed in each foster home. As a result, there is an ongoing need for caring, supportive and qualified individuals and families willing to become licensed foster parents. Becoming a licensed foster parent requires twelve hours of training, a home study, medical and legal clearances, and reference checks. A Juvenile Probation Officer and the Foster Care Coordinator will support you as you work with the youth who are placed in your care. Foster care is a tremendous gift that you can give to your community. For more information, contact the Foster Care Coordinator at (269) 385-6059 or via email.

5. The Juvenile Drug Treatment Court Program is a post-adjudication program for non-violent juvenile offenders who have been assessed with substance abuse problems contributing to delinquent behavior. Program components include frequent drug testing, substance abuse and mental health treatment, intense court supervision, attendance at bi-weekly status review hearings and support groups, payment of restitution, community service and education/employment requirements. Participants progress through four phases of incrementally reduced program requirements and supervision, as sobriety and engagement in drug free activities is maintained. The Juvenile Drug Treatment Court is a family focused program, which requires parental involvement in the juvenile's treatment and recovery. Sanctions and incentives are applied to encourage, motivate and support drug free and crime free behavior.

6. The Youthful Offender Transition Program (YOTP) was designed to provide strength-based services, based on the wraparound model for youthful offenders (ages 16-21) that have had some previous involvement with the court system. The program provides ongoing services to youthful offenders for an average of six months, focusing on transitioning individuals into adulthood by offering support services in treatment, education, employment and independent living.

Some goals of the YOTP are the following: to help youthful offenders complete school graduation requirements, advanced education, and/or vocational interests; to increase the use of pro-social and adaptive behavior skills; to develop and implement a plan for securing employment; and to increase the ability to assume responsibilities of independent living.

Field Placement Internship Program:
Between 40-60 requests per year are received from students majoring in nine different curriculum areas ranging from law enforcement to social work.

Students are screened prior to placement by both the referring university and the court. After orientation, the students are assigned to court caseworkers that serve as field instructors. The emphasis is on making the internship a practical learning experience, as well as aiding students in determining if this particular field is best suited for them.

Volunteer Services:
Volunteer services currently include the operation and supervision of two programs: the Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) Program and the Youthful Offender Transition Program (YOTP). Both programs utilize the skills of well screened, highly trained community members who are interested in contributing personal time and commitment to making a difference in the lives of children and young adults in Kalamazoo County.

Upon completion of a thorough screening and training, CASAs and YOTP mentors become sworn officers of the Kalamazoo County Ninth Circuit Court - Family Division. A CASA volunteer assists the court by providing consistent and reliable advocacy for abused and/or neglected children while in the courtroom and community. They advocate for the child's best interests; complete objective assessments of all persons, places and matters affecting a child's life; and provide written reports and recommendations to the court.

A YOTP mentor is a community member who is interested in positively guiding a young adult (age 16-21) during the transition into adulthood. They assist with the completion of client-identified goals, which might include graduating from school, obtaining employment, and/or living independently. Through a healthy and helpful relationship with a mentee, a mentor assists with the development of the mentee's pro-social skills, ability to communicate and advocate for personal needs, and increase access to community resources.

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