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Santa Cruz County Grants and Initiatives

Probation and Court Based Alternatives

In 2011, the Department was awarded Federal Title II Block Grant Funding to support the Probation and Court Based Alternatives (PCBA) grant. The goals of the PCBA grant are to decrease the number of non-violent youth detained in secure detention, while not compromising public safety. The focus of the population is youth placed in secure detention for violations of probation (VOP), Failure to Appear (FTA’s) and Bench Warrants. PCBA funds support staffing in the detention alternatives programs.

Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative (JDAI)

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.

Disproportionate Minority Contact

Since 2007, the Probation has been awarded a federal grant administered through the Corrections Standard Authority (CSA) to deepen the local effort to reduce disproportionate minority contact (DMC). Probation contracts with the W. Haywood Burns Institute, who along with other expert consultants, provided staff and stakeholder training on DMC and participate in a core working group that meets every two months. The Burns Institute also assists the department in performing a high-level data analysis of how probation youth pass through key points in the juvenile justice system and help determine if decisions are equitably made for all youth. Expert consultants also provide assistance integrating data elements, develop a data interface, conduct analysis, and provide reports of findings and outcomes associated with DMC reduction. A key part of the DMC work is to engage local stakeholders in the DMC work and provide them training and technical assistance.

Funding also helped with the development of a Violation of Probation Response (VOP) Grid. The VOP Grid was developed as a guide to help staff uniformly come up with responses to VOPs prior to taking official court action. The tool takes into account the seriousness of the violation and the risk level of the teen and helps standardize responses. The goal of this tool is ensure the probation officers respond in consistent ways to VOPs and that the responses/interventions match the risk and needs of each youth.

Azteca Probation Soccer Program

This program is enormously popular with probation involved youth and has come to be recognized as an innovative way to reduce violence in the streets while teaching young men leadership skills and how to mutually respect one another, regardless of gang affiliation. We also consider the program to be a DMC reduction strategy for several reasons. Many young Latino males enjoy the game of soccer, yet few have opportunities to participate in organized practices and games. The Azteca team provides this resource. As a DMC reduction strategy, it is helping youth stay focused on a healthy outlet that keeps them off the streets, providing mentors as coaches who model appropriate behaviors that teach at-risk youth healthy anger management skills, which helps reduce violence and other harmful behaviors.

Advancing Evidence Based Practices

In 2011, Probation was awarded Evidence Based Practices Project (EBPP) Federal Title II Funding to participate in a systems change approach on implementing and/or expanding the use of evidence based practices (EBP) within their local juvenile justice communities. The goal of the project is to reduce the recidivism of youthful offenders by providing a comprehensive and flexible funding source to probation departments which supports a systems change approach on implementing evidence based practices known to be effective in delinquency prevention. EBPP supports: 1) an EBP Quality Assurance Probation Officer dedicated to implementing, advancing, and the monitoring of the Positive Achievement Change Tool (PACT) risk and needs assessment and other EBP interventions and; 2) the development of a collaborative re-entry program for teens returning to their communities from out-of-home placement. The re-entry program will utilize EBP interventions for youth transitioning from-out-of home placement.

Aggression Replacement Training

Several Probation Officers in our Department are trained to use the Aggression Replacement Training curriculum with probation youth. Aggression Replacement Training (ART) is supported by the California Gang Reduction and Intervention and Prevention Initiative (CALGRIP) to reduce gangs and youth violence. A.R.T. uses strategies found in the OJJDP model programs guide that provide a multimodal psychoeducational intervention designed to alter the behavior of chronically aggressive adolescents and young children to improve social skill competence, anger control, and moral reasoning. The program incorporates three specific interventions: skill-streaming, anger-control training, and training in moral reasoning. Skill-streaming uses modeling, role-playing, performance feedback, and transfer training to teach prosocial skills. In anger-control training, participating youths must bring to each session one or more descriptions of recent anger-arousing experiences (hassles), and over the duration of the program they are trained in how to respond to their hassles. Training in moral reasoning is designed to enhance youths’ sense of fairness and justice regarding the needs and rights of others and to train youths to imagine the perspectives of others when they confront various moral problem situations.

Juvenile Justice Crime Prevention Act

The Juvenile Justice Crime Prevention Act (JJCPA) supports community-based programs that have proved effective in reducing crime and delinquency among at-risk youth and young offenders. In administering the JJCPA, Corrections Standards Authority (CSA) staff assist local officials in updating comprehensive juvenile justice plans that are due by May 1 of each year and must be approved by the CSA before the State Controller's Office releases state funds allocated to counties under the initiative. Participating counties must report program outcome and expenditure data to the CSA by October 15 of each year. This information, which includes results on six statutorily mandated outcome measures, is incorporated into the annual report to the Legislature on the JJCPA Program.