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Juvenile Probation Officers play a critical role in helping improve the lives of adolescents with emotional and behavioral issues

In the last few years, New Mexico juvenile probation offices across the state have significantly decreased the number of youth being brought to the court’s attention for delinquent offenses. In 2017 the year over year decrease in delinquent referrals had decreased an amazing 51%. New Mexico Children, Youth and Families Department (CYFD) attributes this success to the implementation of the Juvenile Detention Alternative Initiatives which in part allows juvenile probation officers to focus on developing better relationships with the juveniles assigned to them and thus preventing many of the youth from returning to the attention of the court. The relationship the juvenile probation officer has with youth assigned to their case is critical to determining the most effective resources to improve the young person’s quality of life.

Residential treatment, like that provided at Peak Behavioral Health, is one of many services that juvenile probation officers access when families can no longer ensure the safety and provide the care their child needs at home.  Residential treatment provides a highly structured program of intensive behavioral therapy and activities. In New Mexico, the court can place a juvenile directly in a residential treatment center (RTC), where the juvenile probation officer works closely with the youth’s family, RTC, and community support services.  The juvenile probation officer leads the development of a plan with a multidisciplinary team to work through treatment and support the youth from not returning to court with new offenses.

Peak Behavioral Health residential treatment services provides a safe, therapeutic environment for adolescent boys and girls, ages 12-17, who exhibit a persistent pattern of severe emotional and/or behavioral issues. These behaviors are frequent, disruptive, and cannot be treated in a lesser level of care. The juvenile probation officer is critical for accessing residential treatment and monitoring the youth’s participation while in treatment. Juvenile probation officers manage the process of referring youth to Peak Behavioral and provide court level supervision of the youth upon their admission. The court and the juvenile probation officer ultimately make the decision for the youth to be released from residential treatment and return home or to a lower level of care.

The process of accessing residential treatment in New Mexico can often be a challenging task for the juvenile probation officer. There are a limited number of slots available to admit youth, which often results in the juvenile probation officer getting very creative with adding alternative services to the youth’s multidisciplinary plan as a substitute for residential treatment or as a supplement until a slot opens at a residential treatment facility to admit the youth. Peak Behavioral works closely with juvenile probation officers during the referral process and, when a slot is not available to admit a youth immediately, they are placed on a waiting list. Peak Behavioral does its best to update juvenile probation officers with changes on their waiting list and provide estimated dates for admission that the juvenile probation officer can plan around.

Juvenile probation officers are an incredible asset to youth assigned to them by the court. Their relationship with the youth and their leadership on the multidisciplinary team are critical to the success of the youth in treatment. All of these positive aspects can easily be overlooked with the stigma of juvenile delinquency. Peak Behavioral wants to acknowledge at least some of the incredible juvenile probation officers in New Mexico. For the next six (6) months Peak Behavioral will be polling juvenile probation officers around the state to help identify juvenile probation officer heroes who are doing incredible things to help the youth assigned to their care. Once identified, Peak will spotlight a juvenile probation officer every month by doing a story on some of the great things they’re doing in their communities and with their kids, and posting the story on the Peak Behavioral website.

Click here, to nominate a juvenile probation officer you would like to acknowledge for the difference they are making in the lives of young people.

Resource: New Mexico Youth Programs Credited for 50% Decrease in Juvenile Justice Referrals

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