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At Risk: Youth on Probation In the P.A.R.K. Program (Video)

NCJ Number
Eli Despres
Date Published
0 pages
This videotape presents information on Placement Alternative Resources for Kids (PARK) in Santa Cruz County, California.
PARK is a 6-month day treatment program for juveniles on probation. It keeps juveniles in the community while providing wraparound services, such as counselors, probation officers, and teachers on site. A typical day includes check-in with a probation officer, contact with mental health clinicians, recreation, academics, and monitored drug testing. Most juveniles in the program have some involvement with substance abuse. There is a 60-day assessment with a gathering of family, cultural, and criminal history. Psychiatric evaluation is included if needed. Dominic a youth in the program was evaluated and diagnosed as having attention deficit disorder. After he was put on Ritalin and in the PARK program, he made plans to return to the school where he was expelled for fighting. At PARK the staff meet weekly to discuss each youth’s case. After the program during the day, the juveniles go home or to their jobs. The program was initiated after Santa Cruz County examined the arrest and sentencing of violent offenders. They found that after juveniles were released from juvenile hall they would go back to their previous behavior. Santa Cruz County has minimized juvenile hall populations and reached proportionate minority incarceration. PARK works with the juvenile’s family unit. Sometimes the juveniles have severe mental illness so they are treated to prevent them from re-offending. The probation and mental health departments work in close collaboration at PARK. Traditionally they have been at odds due to different missions but at PARK there is a mutual respect between the probation officers and mental health clinicians. Aftercare is three months of outpatient treatment on a part-time schedule. The multiple needs of youth with mental illness and substance abuse problems can be effectively served in community-based service systems such as PARK.