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Santa Cruz County Juvenile Services

The Juvenile Division is responsible for the intake, investigation, pre and post adjudication services (which include alternatives to detention programs and community supervision), placement, and prevention of out of home placement for juveniles referred to the Probation Department.

When the Court finds that laws have been broken and establishes jurisdiction, the Probation Department investigates the juvenile's social background and any prior juvenile record(s). The department will then describe the circumstances of the crime(s) and what must be done to repair the harm to the victims. The department also determines what interventions will assist juveniles in altering their behavior. Once the Court has determined the disposition, the Probation Department is responsible for supervising juveniles and ensuring they comply with all terms of their probation

System of Care

Essential values of the SOC are as follows:

  • Family Preservation
    Children shall be maintained in their homes with their families whenever possible.
  • Interagency Collaboration
    Interagency collaboration and coordinated service delivery system - the primary child serving agencies shall collaborate at the policy management and service levels to provide a coordinated, goal directed system of care for seriously emotionally disturbed children and their families.
  • Least Restrictive Setting
    When out-of-home placement is necessary, children must be placed in the least restrictive setting appropriate to their needs.
  • Natural Setting
    Children benefit most from mental health services provided in their natural environments, where they live and learn.
  • Family Involvement
    Family participation is an intregal part of assessment, evaluation, and treatment.
  • Cultural Competence
    Service effectiveness is dependent upon both culturally revelant and competent service delivery.

Balanced and Restorative Justice

All juvenile programs and services were developed and implemented with the SOC values as fundamental guideposts. Balanced and restorative justice encompasses an alternate framework for the juvenile justice system that acknowleges three primary stakeholders: the victim, the community, and the offender; the goals being accountability, competency building, and public safety.

Detention Reform

In 1999, Santa Cruz County Probation became a model site for the Annie E. Casey Foundation's Juvenile Detention Alternative Initiative (JDAI). The initiative seeks to eliminate the unnecessary use of secure detention; utilize data-driven decision making; improve court processing; develop risk-based detention criteria; increase the use of community-based detention alternatives; improve conditions of confinement; and reduce disproportionate minority contact (DMC). Many of the programs in the Juvenile Continuum of Services are designed to help meet the goals and objectives of the JDAI.