Juvenile Programs & Services
3rd Millennium Classroom
3rd Millennium Classroom is a virtual platform for the intervention of first time juvenile offenders. 3rd Millennium Classrooms has been at the forefront of prevention and intervention since 1999. 3rd Millennium created the first on-line alcohol education course in the country. Since then, they have developed courses for marijuana and other drug use, intimate partner violence and sexual consent, nicotine awareness, and theft and impulse control. All programs use a motivational interviewing style and provide personalized feedback reports. The goal of the program(s) are to engage the client in a powerful learning experience that impacts behavior. Probation primarily used their Marijuana 101 program. Marijuana 101 is a marijuana education and intervention course that is used as a sanction for marijuana violations or possession of drug paraphernalia, as well as an educational component for DWI violations. Clients are presented compelling information about the dangers associated with marijuana use, presented in a reasonable and balanced manner.
Learning for Life
Learning for Life as facilitated by Probation staff, address taking ownership and responsibility for actions, learning from mistakes, discussion regarding anger and conflict management with the ultimate goal of accepting consequences.
The Re-Direct Program provides information to children and parents regarding community resources that are available to families to prevent deeper involvement in the Probation/Court system. The purpose of the Redirect Program is to empower parents to become more effective in their parenting by clarifying their rights and responsibilities and their children's rights and responsibilities. The target population for this group is youth 12 to 18 years of age who have parents/guardians/or a caring adult who is engaged in the life of the youth. This program is a collaborative effort amongst community justice partners including but not limited to: Merced County Probation Department, Field Services and Custody Divisions, Merced County Behavioral Health and Recovery Services, Merced County Public Defender's Office, Merced County District Attorney's Office, various Law Enforcement Agencies, Merced County Public Health, Merced County Child Welfare and Merced County Office of Education.
Supportive Ongoing Services (SOS)
Supportive Ongoing Services (S.O.S) is a multidisciplinary team that meets weekly to assist families in problem solving and securing agency resource. The team consists of Merced County Behavioral Health and Recovery Services, Merced County Public Health, Merced County Probation Department, Merced County & City School Districts, Merced County Child Welfare, Parent Partners, and Central Valley Regional Center. The ultimate goal for S.O.S. is to keep families together by building on family strengths and providing coordinated resources. All agencies and families have access to S.O.S. Referrals to S.O.S. are routed to a single source and families are scheduled to attend a meeting with resources providers who are typically already connected to the family. Information is exchanged and a plan is developed for the youth. A follow-up meeting is scheduled to ensure successes of the plan.
Youth Accountability Board
The Merced County Youth Accountability Board (YAB) is a volunteer organization which was originally formed by citizens who are concerned with the problems of escalating juvenile delinquency and the disintegration of the family. YAB provides services to first-time juvenile offenders who would otherwise be under-served due to the lack of city and county resources. The volunteers strive to strengthen the community by supporting parents in their attempts to raise their children to be successful, law-abiding citizens and to teach children the need to be accountable for their actions. If found appropriate, youth are referred to YAB by Probation.
This is a voluntary program, so the youth and their parents have the option of participating in this program or going through the normal channels available through the juvenile justice system. Should the youth choose to accept this option, the family meets with a Social Investigator to review the circumstances surrounding the offense. The Social Investigator also obtains pertinent information about the youth, including academic and social behaviors. Following the initial interview with the Social Investigator, the youth is then scheduled for a “hearing” before a YAB Panel comprised of five volunteers from the community. During the hearing, the youth and their parent(s) are given the opportunity to speak, along with the social investigator. The panel can then ask questions for further clarification, if needed. The panel then meets in a closed session to develop a unique contract which outlines a set of conditions the juvenile must meet and complete within a specified time frame. Once all of the conditions of the contract are met, the youth's record with the Probation Department is then purged.
Early Intervention & Prevention
The Early Intervention Officer (EIO) provides prevention, early intervention and diversion services to all areas of Merced County. The EIO targets at risk, low-level youth that were cited by a law enforcement agency or referred by school districts. The EIO seeks to apply constructive evidence-based interventions to hold the youth accountable for inappropriate negative and criminal behavior, as well as address the criminogenic needs of the youth when possible.
The EIO is responsible for managing the Youth Accountability Board (YAB) program and ensuring appropriate youth are receiving suitable level of services. Given the YAB program is a voluntary program for clients and their family, the EIO is tasked with the responsibility of encouraging participation and follow-through. Additionally, the EIO will provide community outreach and attempt to recruit volunteers to serve as Social Investigators and panel members.
The EIO will be the representative for the S.A.F.E. (Supporting Attendance and Families through Education) Program. All truancy referrals are assigned to the EIO for intake and investigation. Based on program outlines and the decision-making tree, clients will have an appropriate response to truancy referral(s). The EIO will work collaboratively with the respective school district that generated the truancy referral. Additionally, the EIO is the liaison for all school districts within the County of Merced. It is the responsibility of the EIO to make regular contact with school districts and school sites to establish and build rapport. The EIO is the primary representative to participate in School Attendance Review Boards (SARB).
The EIO is responsible for providing gang and drug abuse awareness presentations to both parents and teachers identifying early warning sings; to include, vape pen usage to both elementary and middle schools within the county. The EIO participates in and department representative for the Supporting Ongoing Services (S.O.S.) Program. Lastly, the EIO acts as the departments representative and primary presenter for the Re-Direct Program.
Juvenile Behavioral Health Court
The Juvenile Behavioral Health Court Program is a court supervised, comprehensive, four-phase treatment program provided in collaboration with the Judge of the Superior Court-Juvenile Division, Merced County Probation, Merced County Behavioral Health and Recovery Services (BHRS), Merced County District Attorney, Merced County Public Defender, and Merced County Office of Education.
The program is designed for youth who have been diagnosed primarily with an Axis I mental illness or for youth who have a dual diagnosis. BHRS has trained a Dual Diagnosis specialist to be a part of the treatment team. BHRS is moving to expand treatment services to 7:00 pm in an effort to address any time constraints parents may have with getting their child to treatment.
BHRS is now under the Drug Medical Organized Delivery System and can provide services within the community, which allows for their counselors and case managers to visit clients at home, school, etc. This program provides resources, tools and continuum of care which increases their overall quality of life and decreases incarceration for youths.
Learn. Inform. Network. Know. (L.I.N.K.)
The Merced County Probation Department operates an after-school program for youth who are referred and are ranked by the risk assessment tool as moderate to high risk. The L.I.N.K (Learn. Inform. Network. Know.) program allows for youth to LEARN life skills, get INFORMed about available resources within the community, NETWORK with positive mentors which gives them the KNOWledge they need to be successful in the future. This is an incentive based program that is held at Atwater Valley Community School. Participants receive independent living skills, employment assistance, anger management classes, substance abuse counseling, sports training, Moral Reconation Therapy (MRT), and more. A Deputy Probation Officer is the main facilitator of the program providing direct oversight; however, a host of treatment providers are brought in to provide the aforementioned services.
Los Banos HUB
The Merced County-Los Banos region Prop 47 initiative provides a local intervention program targeting system-involved youth with a history of substance abuse. The intervention program will aim to increase system-involved youth/ young adults' educational attainment, reduce their risk assessment scores (i.e. PACT-2.0 and STRONG Assessments), and reduce their recidivism rates. The intervention will be focused on young males (ages 10-17) and transitioning young adults (ages 18-24) in the Los Banos region (i.e. Los Banos, Dos Palos, Gustine, and Santa Nella). These changes will be measured starting from the first six month follow-up after intake, and continue through until the end of the three-year initiative. The development of a Youth and Family Safety Hub (the Hub), provides culturally-competent, evidence-based El Joven Noble program, a network of community leaders to recruit and develop mentors, a Youth Leadership Advisory Council (YLAC), and referrals for social services. In addition, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) services for substance use and mental health issues will be offered to those youth identified with those specific needs.
DoWITH (an Aspiranet Program)
The Do Whatever It Takes at Home (DoWITH) Program, offered by ASPIRAnet, is a collaborative between the Human Services Agency (HSA), Behavioral Health and Recovery Services, the Merced County Probation Department, and the Merced County Office of Education. DoWITH offers a unique blend of “wraparound” services designated to be flexible in nature and will consider, blend and incorporate the family's voice in the decision-making process. The strengths of the family are utilized as the foundation of the planning process. The parent of the youth is given a parent partner to assist the parent with the struggles of parenting troubled teens. Parent Partners are parents (mothers and fathers) who have first-hand experience with the Child Welfare system, and who have exhibited exceptional qualities in their own efforts to develop viable permanency plans for their children, an understanding of how the Child Welfare system works, an appreciation of what it takes to be successful, and personal qualities that lend themselves to collaboration on various levels. The (DoWITH) Program offers twenty-four hour on-call assistance with crisis intervention.
WeCAN (an Aspiranet Program)
The Wraparound Empowerment Compassion and Needs (WeCAN) Program has provided individualized, multisystemic strength-based interventions to ameliorate mental health conditions that interfere with a youth's functioning. The WeCAN Program is operated by Aspiranet and is Merced County’s other Full-Service Partnership (FSP), which serves children and youth ages 0 to 18 of all races and ethnicities with special efforts to reach those with increased risk factors. WeCAN delivers specialty mental health services to severely emotionally disturbed clients, according to an individualized treatment plan designed with the child and the family. WeCAN meets families in their home on their time and collaborates with families’ natural support systems. WeCAN provides community services and support 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to clients with an emphasis on those with serious emotional behavior issues living successfully in the least restrictive normative environment. The goals of the program are: to reduce out-of-home placements and to provide strength-based, family-driven services that promote wellness, recovery, and community integration.
Parents Supporting Parents (PSP)
Parents of youth who have been ordered to Out-of-Home Placement are ordered to attend the Parents Supporting Parents (PSP) support group which is facilitated by Probation. This program is designed to help parents develop and strengthen their parental skills in order to facilitate the development of their own parental support system, network with each other and utilize each other for support during difficult times, and learn about resources that are available in the community. In addition, parents are taught effective communication skills, how to set clear limitations on their child's behavior, and how to manage family conflicts without the intervention of law enforcement.
RISE to Higher Grounds Mobile Coffee Cart
The Mobile Coffee Cart is a collaborative reentry program between Merced County Office of Education and the Probation Department which helps clients overcome one or more of barriers of transition back within the community. The purpose of the Mobile Coffee Cart program is to provide an opportunity for youth currently detained and completing an in-custody program, to learn skills related to customer service, handling cash, barista, merchandising, stocking and various other tasks oriented towards daily operational duties. The ultimate goal is to give youth practical work skills they can use once they leave and assist them with a smoother transition to the community if employment is no longer a barrier to success.
Clients will be enrolled in the Merced County Regional Occupational Program (ROP) Culinary Essentials program. Participation in the program is based on behavior, current status within their commitment program and overall drive to partake in and contribute to the success of the program. The program's instructor is a credentialed teacher who is a former restaurant owner/manager. The program is also supported by an Instructional Aide with food service experience. Once clients have learned the necessary culinary skills in the classroom/kitchen lab and have obtained their Food Handlers certification card, they can then utilize their skills in the mobile coffee trailer to gain hands on culinary experience and customer service training through interaction with customers from the general public.
The RISE Program is a collaborative program between Merced County Office of Education and the Probation Department which provides participants with employability skills training followed by paid work experience in a culinary establishment. With their culinary training, food handlers certification card, experience in the mobile coffee trailer and work experience with a local culinary establishment, participants will be prepared for employment in the local culinary labor market.
Bear Creek Academy (BCA) Short Term
Youth who are committed to the Bear Creek Academy (BCA) Short Term Program are given the opportunity by the Juvenile Delinquency Court to enter a coordinated system of care with the goal of breaking destructive behavior patterns. Youth who are committed to this program are taught positive social skills, corrective thinking, ethical values, and strategies for successful community interaction. This Program is point based and youth receive points for pro-social behavior(s) and for attending school/programming. Youth are committed to the BCA Short Term Program by levels.
Bear Creek Academy (BCA) Long Term and BCA Youth Treatment
The Bear Creek Academy Long Term Program (BCA/LTP) and Bear Creek Academy Youth Treatment Program (BCA/YTP) consist of youth who have been given the opportunity by the Juvenile Delinquency Court to enter a coordinated system of care with the goal of breaking old patters that have resulted in negative and destructive behavior. The program(s) offer a system of educational and evidenced based program elements that teach the youth new patterns for dealing with stimulus which previously resulted in antisocial and delinquent behavior. The program(s) teach positive social skills, correct thinking, moral and ethical values, and strategies for successful community intervention. The programs are point based and youth receive points for pro-social behavior(s) and for attending school/programming. The final phase of the program will include aftercare to effectively transition youth into the community once released from the facility. A re-entry plan will be developed for each participant. Case management will be provided by an assigned probation officer, to ensure adherence to the re-entry plan.