New York State mandates that the Suffolk County Probation Department is the lead agency responsible for the delivery of services for any adolescent exhibiting incorrigible or truant behaviors. Diversion is mandated by State law. Diversion is defined as the intervention services with the goal to improve the youth’s behavior. Thereby diverting him/her from becoming involved in the court system. Diversion services includes any and all forms of counseling, parenting education, evaluations, and school interventions. In Suffolk County, we have a pre-diversion program the AFY Program. This program is engaged even before the youth gets to diversion.
The first program parents are referred to is the Alternatives for Youth Program. The AFY program is a pre-diversion program and all Parent PINS cases are referred to this program prior to formally entering the juvenile justice system (Pre-petition). If the youth referred does not complete or is unsuccessful in the AFY program we open a PINS diversion case, school PINS cases receive diversion services as the AFY program is designated for Parent PINS cases. In our diversion program youth are given services such as drug & alcohol/Mental Health/Anger Management treatment referrals. PINS Diversion cases are monitored by a PO, who will meet with the child regularly at home & school. Youth in the diversion program they are given services and monitored by a probation officer. If all diversion efforts are unsuccessful, a PINS petition is filed.
The diversion program has no time limit. For example, it does not end after 12 months of participation. It may, however, be discontinued after the teen turns 18 years of age, or if there is non-compliance with the program. A new application for participation in the diversion program usually cannot be filed after the child’s 18th birthday.
The youth remains in the diversion program until either:
- the diversion program is assessed to be no longer needed due to marked improvement in behaviors;
- the diversion program is assessed to be ineffective and unlikely to be effective with continued involvement; or
- the case can also be terminated if a parent or school is assessed to be uncooperative or noncompliant with the program’s directives.
If #2 is cited, the family can be referred to a judge. However, this second reason for discontinuation is difficult to achieve and sometimes, even if a family is referred to a judge, the judge can then simply refer the family back to the diversion program for continued attempts.
Parents/Guardians/School Districts are mandated to cooperate with all diversion services and sanctions can follow if they fail to comply. For example, this could be due to the family failing to attend parenting classes or counseling or a school district failing to convene a required CSE.
All cases that come into PINS Diversion are referred to the designated assessment services team (DAS). All PINS diversion cases are opened for thirty (30) days. All efforts are made to route this youth into our pre-diversion program Alternatives for Youth Program (see AFY section. If the youth does not successfully complete the program, they are then sent to PINS Diversion, PINS Diversion cases may be referred to An educational advocacy program run by The Long Island Advocacy Center, and to the Home Based Services program, run by a contracted agency Family Services League, which facilitates a more intense program for high risk youth. The implementation of the Alternatives For Youth program and PINS Reform Legislation in 2005 resulted in a reduced number of DAS referrals and is directly responsible for the significant decrease in the number of DAS case referrals thereafter. Since inception in 2005 the DAS case numbers fell significantly and have remained consistently low.
If a child engages in runaway behavior, the new PINS law mandates that the parent/guardian immediately file a missing person’s report with their local police department. The Family Court no longer issues routine warrants for runaway behaviors. If a child is located by a police department, the police officer’s first responsibility is to return the child to the family. Only in unusual circumstances will a child be brought to a runaway facility or respite program.
ALTERNATIVES FOR YOUTH (AFY)
Phone: (631) 853-7889
Monday through Friday
From: 8:30 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. at either 853-5281 or 853-7889
This program is considered a pre-PINS diversion program that is the first place that parents should call for help with children under the age of 18 who exhibit a pattern of incorrigible behaviors (runaways, curfew violations etc.) in the home. If eligible, interested families are referred on to an agency that provides in-home services beginning within 24-48 hours. A variety of services, including case management for up to one year, can be readily accessed through this program. All cases are screened by the probation department and referred to the designated program agency after screening.
The program provides linkages to services for substance abuse treatment, anger management, mentoring, individual and family counseling, mental health evaluations, and more. AFY starts with immediate, home-based crisis intervention by a Case Manager to stabilize the family crisis, implement a Family Intervention Plan, and link the family with community resources, which help provide ongoing support. Because many adolescents need someone closer to their age to guide them in the right direction, AFY has a group of male and female Peer Specialists who work hard to engage the youth in positive recreational and educational activities, including both one-on-one and group activities. For young women, the H.E.R.S. (Helping Each other Reach Success) peer group focuses on making healthy choices. For young men, the Boys to Men group focuses on the journey of building strong character to improve their life skills. Furthermore, AFY conducts training sessions to empower parents and enable them to better handle their family’s specialized issues and needs.
How to access services:
Call the Probation Department AFY Screening Unit at (631) 853-5281 or 853-7889.
- Do not go to any Probation Department office to initiate the AFY process. The entire procedure can be handled in a phone call. Coming into a Probation Department office will result in lengthy delays, at best, since their locations are not set up to provide AFT services.
- The Probation Department screening unit will determine if you and your family are appropriate for diversion services. You must be able to provide the officer with a pattern of recent incorrigible behaviors that can include running away, substance abuse, or resistance to appropriate parental authority.
- If your case is accepted by the screeners, you will be immediately referred to the Alternatives For Youth Program within 72 hours. The AFY caseworker will contact your family to evaluate your situation and make appropriate referrals.
- The AFY caseworker will work with you for up to five weeks, at which time whatever ongoing services that are deemed appropriate will be put into place. A family can always reapply for additional AFY services by going through the above telephone screening process. There is no limit, except beyond the child’s 18th birthday, to the number of times that a family can request assistance.
Juvenile Delinquency Diversion & Supervision
JD’s are juveniles adjudicated for an offense which would be a criminal offense if they were 16 or older. The Probation Department receives arrest paperwork from the Police Department (in certain cases JDs are immediately put in detention, but if a case is low risk, there is a parent/guardian to release them to/etc., they are given a Family Court Appearance Ticket also known as “FCAT”. In such cases, the probation department attempts to “adjust” the case with permission form the victim, if there is one. Adjustment entails the Department of Probation deciding to resolve the case through services rather than the through the court system. We can have juvenile pay restitution, write apology letters, do community service. Additionally, a referral may be made to Town Youth Courts, or to contracted local treatment providers. Another option at our disposal are “Restorative Circles” which bring the victim/complainant & the youth together to resolve and discuss the matter. The department has 60 days to work with the youth this can be extended to 60 more days if it is determined it would be appropriate. If the youth are noncompliant we may then refer it to court, if all goes well the case is closed as adjusted and there is no record. If the youth is unsuccessful, non-compliant in diversion efforts, the youth returns to court and the judge may then order probation supervision or placement.
Out of Home Placements
If the judge finds the youth entering the criminal justice system needs to be confined, he/she will decide which type of facility is most appropriate. Juvenile Delinquents and Juvenile Offenders are placed with the New York State Office of Children and Family Services’ Division of Juvenile Justice and Opportunities for Youth (OCFS) and non-Juvenile Offender-Youthful Offenders (16 – 18-year-olds) are placed with the New York State Department of Correctional Services (DOCS). PINS youth are not placed in OCFS facilities. PINS are sent to Residential Placements (private not for profit facilities), some JD’s are also sent to these Residential Placements instead of OCFS placements, ultimately the judge determines where a youth is sent. In addition, another type of out of home placement is a diagnostic placement. These diagnostic evaluations provide the judge with mental health diagnostic reports which are then used to inform his/her decisions regarding disposition. These out of home placements are ordered by the judge either pre-adjudication or can be ordered if the youth goes before the judge post adjudication if he/she has committed a violation of probation.
Juveniles (JDs and JOs) temporarily confined in a secure or non-secure juvenile facility either after an arrest or during the probation intake or petition process.
“Detention” means the temporary care and maintenance of children away from their own homes, as defined in section five hundred two of the executive law. Detention of a person alleged to be or adjudicated as a juvenile delinquent shall be authorized only in a facility certified by the division for youth as a detention facility pursuant to section five hundred three of the executive law. 4.
“Secure detention facility” means a facility characterized by physically restricting construction, hardware and procedures.
“Non-secure detention facility”
means a facility characterized by the absence of physically restricting construction, hardware and procedures.