Queens Youth Justice Center
The Queens Youth Justice Center is a community-based program that provides an alternative to detention for youth who have open delinquency matters pending in Queens Family Court. The justice center provides judges with timely, accurate and comprehensive information regarding young people assigned to the program, and offers meaningful instruction to participants and their families to help young people meet their court obligations and pursue law-abiding lives. Services available through the justice center include homework help and academic assistance, community service, recreational activities, cognitive-behavioral groups, informational and educational seminars on assorted topics, and, through QUEST Futures, mental health assessment, case management, and family support.
How It Works
Swift Assessment: A juvenile arrested for delinquency is evaluated by the New York City Department of Probation using a standardized risk assessment instrument. Based on this assessment, judges in Queens Family Court may assign respondents to Queens Youth Justice Center. At this point, the young person and family member(s) meet with a court liaison and other program staff for an orientation.
Community Monitoring: Youth who are enrolled in community monitoring must comply with a curfew determined by the judge and must attend school and all court appearances. Court monitors check rigorously for compliance through daily telephone contact and home visits when necessary.
After-School Supervision: The justice center after-school supervision component runs year-round, including summer months, and consists of a variety of activities meant to engage and enrich participants, such as chess, basketball, reading groups, computer training, guest speakers, community service, and individual counseling.
Ongoing Case Management and Referrals: The justice center provides case management and referrals to respondents and families who request additional assistance. Building upon information collected during the assessment, a youth counselor meets with participants and families individually and makes additional referrals for services as needed. For participants with mental health problems, QUEST Futures provides in-depth biospsychosocial assessments, treatment planning, and intensive care management services for as long as the young person is involved in the juvenile justice system.
Graduated Sanctions: The justice center staff is authorized to impose in-house sanctions in response to non-compliance, including required parent conferences at the program site, conferences with school attendance personnel, home visits, and in-house privilege losses.
Better Information: All information concerning a participant’s performance is entered into a case management and compliance tracking system. Reports detailing progress and compliance are prepared and submitted to Court at each court appearance. The goal is to ensure that participants take court requirements seriously.
Outcome Monitoring: Justice center staff conduct a brief exit interview with each participant and/or parents/guardians to collect contact information and record any significant changes since program enrollment. Justice center staff then complete a discharge plan for each successful participant that offers information and referral recommendations for ongoing service needs and referrals. Program and evaluation staff also use the information to monitor outcomes and track program impact.
The justice center serves up to 220 youth annually. To date, 84% of participating youths have complied with court requirements, remain arrest free and have successfully completed the program or have been moved to another community based tier of supervision.
Current programs include:
Parent Support Program
Housed in the New York City Department of Probation offices in Queens Family Court, the Parent Support Program connects parents and caregivers whose children are involved in the juvenile justice system with a team of parent coaches. These coaches draw upon their own experiences navigating the system to provide guidance and peer support, empowering parents and caregivers to take an active role in their children's deliquency cases.
Launched in April 2015 in conjunction with the New York City Administration for Children's Services, Aftercare Services offers after-school programming, case management, and leadership development to young people returning to the community from Close to Home juvenile facilities in Queens.
The project is funded by the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services, the City of New York, the Butler Foundation and the New York Community Trust. The Vera Institute will be performing data collection and analysis for this project and other related projects around the city.