Hidalgo County Texas
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Judge Mario E. Ramirez, Jr. Juvenile Justice Center
PROGRAMS AND UNITS WITH IN THE JUVENILE PROBATION DEPARTMENT


Intake Unit
 

    The Unit’s primary responsibility is to receive, process referrals, and subsequently assign cases to the appropriate unit for disposition. This Unit is on call 24/7. They make the determination if a child will be detained when a Police Department calls requesting a juvenile to be detained.
 

Juvenile Court Conference Committee (JCCC) 

    The Juvenile Court Conference Committee Volunteer Program (JCCC) is an early intervention / prevention program which is geared towards diverting referred juvenile offenders from further involvement in the juvenile justice system. This program recruits and trains local community citizen to work with first time juvenile offenders through a structured volunteer program. The heart of the program relies on the volunteer to take an active role within their own community to assist the youth and their families. The primary objectives of the program are to divert these juvenile offenders from further involvement in the juvenile justice system by providing accountability for the juvenile behavior, educate families regarding community programs that might assist in resolving their issues, encourage parental involvement, and empower the community and encourage neighborhood collaboration.


Court Investigation Unit 

     The Court Investigation Unit Probation Officers (Court Investigators) are assigned to certain State District Courts of Hidalgo County. The Officer is assigned to a court and is directly responsible for the data collection of the petitioned cases in that court. The Probation Officers are required to initially assess the assigned case, with the child and family, and prepare a social study to be presented at the disposition phase of the Juvenile Court Hearing. The Probation Officer will also present the department’s recommendation to the Court through a social study and/or verbal testimony.


Field Supervision Unit 

    The Field Supervision Unit consists of those Probation Officers who are providing Direct Field Supervision to their cases. Their primary responsibility is the supervision of juveniles whether or not they are adjudicated delinquent by the Juvenile Courts. The Probation Officers will be assigned to the case once the juvenile has been processed through the Intake Unit.  These officers monitor Deferred Prosecution (informal/voluntary) cases and Judicial Probation (mandatory) cases through home visits, office visits, school visits, and police department visits. The officers maintain one to three face to face contacts with the juvenile per month. 
  

Intensive Supervision Program (I.S.P.) 

    This program provides more intensive supervision and rehabilitation services to high-risk juveniles. The period for this supervision is usually from four (4) to six (6) months. A court ordered curfew must be met by the child. The purpose is to divert the youth from the state institutions or other residential facilities. These officers maintain at least three (3) face to face contacts with the juvenile per week.


Special Needs Diversionary Program (SNDP / T.C.O.O.M.M.I.) 

    The Special Needs Diversionary Program works in coordination with a Mental Health Professional from Texas Tropical Behavioral Health to provide effective services to juvenile offenders with mental health or medical needs.  This program is designed to prevent the removal of juveniles with these needs from the home and to prevent further involvement with the juvenile justice system. Some activities within this program consists of researching and developing community resources, assisting families in accessing resources, assisting with transportation to appointments, and monitoring child’s behavior for compliance with probation terms. 


Juvenile Justice Alternative Education Program (J.J.A.E.P.) 

    Children, who are expelled from school, violate court orders of probation or exhibit criminal behavior may be placed in this program. The department contracts with the County’s School Districts who want to participate in this program. There are two types of referrals. Mandatory - State will reimburse County for expenditure at a specific rate per days attended. Discretionary – Department bills the school district since these students are sent to the program at the districts discretion. The Department contracts with the Southwest Key Program to provide this service.


Internal Mental Health Unit

The Internal Mental Health Unit provides individual and family counseling for juvenile who have an identified mental health need.  The goal is to increase mental health services and to supplement existing mental health services to juveniles by a Licensed Mental Health Professional. To increase the availability of mental health screenings, assessment and evaluations for juvenile referred to an under the supervision of the juvenile probation department.


Internal Substance Use Department

This department will provide educational information for juveniles on substance use including prevention and intervention.  The goal is to provide juveniles referred to and under the supervision of the juvenile probation department relapse prevention techniques, promote a sober/drug free lifestyle and work to improve decision making skills.


Wrap Around Program 

    The Wrap Around Program works closely with Southwest Key staff to provide highly effective wrap around and intensive case management services that prevent at-risk youth from repeat violations that could result in the youth being removed from the home and relocated to an out of home placement. This program is an alternative to out of home placement program.  The program is mix of culturally competent services that wrap the youth and the family with services to increase their chances of maintaining success in their community. Youth and their families are served by this program for approximately four (4)to six (6) months. Service delivery includes a unique combination of highly effective services including immediate intervention, comprehensive assessments, advocacy, crisis stabilization, case management, monitoring and supervision services, skills building service, therapeutic support services, youth and family service planning, discharge planning, and aftercare.


Face Forward Program

The Face Forward program conveys the idea of youth leaving their past transgressions behind and looking forward to a promising future. Through diversion or record expungement, the youth will have a chance to succeed in the workplace and to avoid the stigma of a juvenile record.  The program will give youth a chance to succeed in the workplace and to avoid the stigma of a juvenile record in an attempt to divert the youth from the Juvenile Justice System.


Sex Offender Program 

    The Sex Offender Probation Officer supervises cases that have been placed on Deferred Prosecution or Judicial Probation for sex offenses that require Out Patient Sex Offender Treatment Services. This Officer works closely with a Licensed Sex Offender Treatment Provider, assists in the registration of Sex Offenders and collects DNA samples when ordered by the Court. The families are also rendered services through this program.  The probation term for these offense is no less than two (2) years.
 

Title IV-E Program 

    This program is a federal foster care program which, among other things, assists states with the cost of care for children who qualify for financial assistance and who meet the eligibility requirements. The purpose is to improve the program for child welfare, social services, and aid families with dependent children. It consists of only adjudicated cases that qualify for a Specialized Residential Placement Program utilizing federal funds in a non-secure facility.
 
     Title IV-E Federal Foster Care Program 

    When the Adoption Assistance & Child Welfare Act (Public Law 96-272) was enacted in 1960, it was intended to improve many of the shortcomings of the then existing foster care system. Family preservation became a focus care system. In order to preserve the reunification of families, the attempt to remove a child from the home was only considered when it became absolutely necessary and with the deliberate intent to return the child to the home it had been removed from or other permanent living arrangements as quickly as possible. 

    Title IV-E of the Social Security Act, a section of Public Law 96-272, is a federal foster care and adoption assistance program that is administered in Texas by the Texas Department of Protective and Regulatory Services (TDPRS), formerly known as the Department of Human Services. 

    State agencies were mandated by the 73rd Legislature to maximize the use of federal funds. The Texas Juvenile Probation Commission (TJPC) studied the IV-E Program and considered it as a possible benefit to juvenile probation departments across the State of Texas. TJPC aimed at accessing these federal funds in order to increase the amount of placement funds available to juvenile probation departments. 

    TJPC contracted with TDPRS to begin accessing federal funds designed to reimburse juvenile probation departments approximately 50% of the foster care placement costs of adjudicated youth that meet eligibility requirements. 

    In 1995, Hidalgo County Juvenile Probation Department entered into a contracted with TJPC sequentially to benefit from the provisions of residential care for more youth demonstrating a need for specialized services. 

    The governing components required in determining whether any particular youth may be eligible are:
  • Economic Status: the youth must meet the qualifications for TANF;
  • Parental Deprivation: the youth must be deprived of parental support;
  • Placement in a “IV-E approved facility”: the facility is required to be licensed through TDPRS.

    Federal Requirements are such that maximize the quality of case management care invested in every youth that is certified as being IV-E. Aside from advocating for treatment services to improve quality of life, the program sustains the protection of parental & youth rights.


Residential Placement Unit 

    This program supervises all non-Title IV-E cases (and juveniles placed in secure settings) which require residential placement and/or supervision while in placement. The department contracts with various placement facilities throughout the State of Texas for this service. This program is used when removal from the home is in the best interest of the child.