The Youth Commission Program is a diversionary, dispositional alternative for minor, first time juvenile offenders who commit misdemeanor or lower grade offenses. The Youth Commission Program is a group of volunteers, with 5 to 20 years of Youth Commission service, comprised of a wide spectrum of demographics, educational and occupational backgrounds, whose purpose is to assist the Juvenile Court in the supervision of children between the ages of 10 and 18 who have been referred the Juvenile Court for the first time.
The Juvenile Probation Office does a thorough background check of all perspective volunteers and conducts training for them on a quarterly basis. Once accepted and suitably trained, a Volunteer can begin supervising juveniles referred to the Youth Commission as a Community Probation Officer (CPO).
The CPO is responsible to maintain contact with the juvenile and report the juvenile’s progress to the Youth Commission Coordinator. The CPO is required to have a minimum of one face to face contact a month, with these meetings occurring at the Juvenile Probation Office’s designated meeting areas.
A juvenile offender’s suitability for the Youth Commission is determined by the Youth Commission Coordinator and the Youth Level of Service (YLS) assessment. If a juvenile offender is deemed eligible, the case is referred to the Youth Commission that operates within the school district in which the juvenile resides. The CPOs then set up a meeting with the juvenile and his/her parent(s).
With information gathered at this meeting, the Youth Commission Coordinator and CPOs set the terms and conditions of the juvenile’s probation. Referrals can be made to various outside agencies to deal with such issues as substance abuse, mental health, or family counseling.
Informal Adjustment Consent
The juvenile is placed on an Informal Adjustment Consent (an informal form of probation) for a period of six months and is supervised by one of the CPOs. If the juvenile completes his/her six months successfully, they are eligible to have their records expunged pursuant to 18 Pa. C.S. Section 9123(a) Expungement of Juvenile Records and Pa. R.J.C.P. 408(B)(1).
The overall goal is to keep juveniles from becoming involved with the Juvenile Court. To do that, low-level, first time juvenile offenders are held accountable for their delinquent acts. The object in holding the juvenile offender accountable is that it would discourage him/her from becoming involved in further delinquent activity. It is also hoped the CPO would be viewed as a role model to the juvenile. The juvenile also has positive interactions with a hardworking and successful person who has a genuine interest in helping the juvenile make it through a tough time in their life. They are also given something that probably no one else has given them in their life; time and understanding.
The secondary, but no less important goal of the Program is to give individuals within a community an opportunity to engage in a constructive activity which will positively impact the lives of the young people who also reside within that same community with the ultimate goals: being the reduction of crime and the improvement of the overall safety and quality of life for everyone within that community.
The Youth Commission currently is broken down into 2 panels: The Uniontown panel, which meets at the Juvenile Probation Office and the Connellsville panel, which meets at the Christian Church of Connellsville.
Volunteer opportunities are always available within the Commission. Volunteers must be over the age of 21 and submit to the following: Criminal, Child abuse and FBI background clearances.