Juvenile and School Based Unit
SCHOOL-BASED PROBATION UNIT
Gordon Diffenderfer-Juvenile SupervisorGerald Embs - Probation Officer Nila McIntyre - Probation Officer Clara Ramadham Probation Officer Lisa Washburn Probation Officer Luanne Whitcomb Probation Officer
Cattaraugus County Probation Department’s School-Based Probation Unit consists of five Officers and one Supervisor. This staff has cumulative experience of 92 years of work in Probation and 119 years of work within the County. Two Juvenile Probation Officers have previous experience working in the Cattaraugus County Department of Social Services Child Welfare and Child Protection divisions.
The Unit’s educational experience includes two master’s degrees – in the fields of counseling and education, and six bachelor’s degrees – in the fields of criminal justice, education, counseling, and social work. The Unit is responsible for handling Juvenile Delinquency matters and Persons In Need of Supervision cases which may come before the Family Court. Many cases are diverted from the Family Court and handled through the Department informally through Intake. Probation Officers are stationed in the community’s schools where they are able to work closely with school personnel and students. All of the cases are handled with the best interest of the juvenile and the safety of the general public in mind. Officers are currently supervising 178 cases. Many of these cases turn over quickly and as a result, Officers serve a much greater number than this figure would seem to indicate – in the range of 500 juveniles per year. One of the goals of the Department, along with creating and maintaining safe and peaceful communities, is to minimize costs to the Department of Social Services and the Youth Bureau regarding detention and placement. Since school-based probation was initiated, placements and the use of detention have been greatly reduced. The numbers for the past 1 ½ years are printed on the following pages. In recent years the Probation Department has been able to reduce placement costs by approximately $2 million per year.
So far in 2012, the Unit is doing even better. The use of detention has been reduced from 707 detention days to 121 detention days. That is a reduction of 83%, saving the County $249,000 in the first six months of 2012. The placement rate for this year has been brought from six placements between January and June of 2011 to zero this year. That is a 100% reduction in placements, at a savings of $900,000 in the first six months of 2012. Total savings between these two areas is $1,149,050.00.
The school-based staff works with very difficult cases involving teenagers. The staff expend considerable effort to make sure all these difficult cases are handled in the most cost efficient manner.
We hope to continue this success through the remainder of the year and plan on doing additional group work with teenagers, including implementing an employment program to accompany the anger management program and cognitive skills program