Probation Diversion Services
As an alternative to court involvement, the Family Court Act provides for local Probation Departments to offer diversion services. The purpose of diversion services is to divert cases from going to Family Court. Diversion services are the only voluntary service offered by the Department of Probation and Community Justice and the only service able to be accessed on a walk-in basis and without a court order. Our department concentrates its diversion efforts on matters related to youth. These youth are identified as Persons in Need of Supervision (PINS) or Juvenile Delinquents (JD).
Family Court Probation Officers provide daily intake coverage Monday through Friday. This means that they are the designated contact for the Probation Department if and when people from the community come looking for information or guidance for any family related matter. This type of request is referred to as an “information only” request. Calls are often from parents looking for advice or help with their “out of control” child. The Probation response may encompass a review of departmental services or resources available in the community.
(PINS) Persons in Need of Supervision
A Person in Need of Supervision is a youth under the age of eighteen who is showing a pattern of habitual disobedience, running away, curfew violations, substance abuse, violent behavior, or school truancy problems. Most PINS referrals are made by parents or school districts. PINS Diversion Services attempt to resolve the conflicts that brought a youth to the attention of the Probation Department by offering supervision, guidance, and referrals to community resources. Referrals may be made for individual and/or family counseling, mediation, youth advocacy programs, respite, or educational or employment assessments and opportunities. Probation Officers work closely with schools to address issues of truancy and/or behavior problems by meeting with teachers, advocating for testing or support services in the school, and by helping parents develop more communication with the school administration. Probation Officers within the Family Court unit are assigned to specific school districts and are present at those schools on a weekly basis.
The Tompkins County Probation Department also offers diversion services to youth issued a Juvenile Appearance Ticket by local police agencies. A Juvenile Delinquent is defined as a person over seven and less than sixteen years of age, who commits an act, which -- if committed by an adult -- would constitute a crime. The youth is required to write a letter of apology to the victim(s), complete community service, pay restitution [if applicable], attend a screening for Victim-Offender Conferencing, and remain law-abiding.