(a) Any county may, upon adoption of a resolution by the board of supervisors, establish an At-Risk Youth Early Intervention Program designed to assess and serve families with children who have chronic behavioral problems that place the child at risk of becoming a ward of the juvenile court under Section 601 or 602. The purpose of the program is to provide a swift and local service response to youth behavior problems so that future involvement with the justice system may be avoided.
(b) The At-Risk Youth Early Intervention Program shall be designed and developed by a collaborative group which shall include representatives of the juvenile court, the probation department, the district attorney, the public defender, the county department of social services, the county education department, county health and mental health agencies, and local and community-based youth and family service providers.
(c) The At-Risk Youth Early Intervention Program shall include one or more neighborhood-based Youth Referral Centers for at-risk youth and their families. These Youth Referral Centers shall be flexibly designed by each participating county to serve the local at-risk youth population with family assessments, onsite services, and referrals to offsite services. The operator of a Youth Referral Center may be a private nonprofit community-based agency or a public agency, or both. A center shall be staffed by youth and family service counselors who may be public or private employees and who shall be experienced in dealing with at-risk youth who are eligible for the program, as described in subdivision (d). The center may also be staffed as a collaborative service model involving onsite youth and family counselors, probation officers, school representatives, health and mental health practitioners, or other service providers. A center shall be located at one or more community sites that are generally accessible to at-risk youth and families and shall be open during daytime, evening, and weekend hours, as appropriate, based upon local service demand and resources available to the program.
(d) A minor may be referred to a Youth Referral Center by a parent or guardian, a law enforcement officer, a probation officer, a child welfare agency, or a school, or a minor may self-refer. A minor may be referred to the program if the minor is at least 10 years of age and is believed by the referring source to be at risk of justice system involvement due to chronic disobedience to parents, curfew violations, repeat truancy, incidents of running away from home, experimentation with drugs or alcohol, or other serious behavior problems. Whenever a minor is referred to the program, the Youth Referral Center shall make an initial determination as to whether the minor is engaged in a pattern of at-risk behavior likely to result in future justice system involvement, and, if satisfied that the minor is significantly at risk, the center shall initiate a family assessment. The family assessment shall identify the minor's behavioral problem, the family's circumstances and relationship to the problem, and the needs of the minor or the family in relation to the behavioral problem. The assessment shall be performed using a risk and needs assessment instrument, based on national models of successful youth risk and needs assessment instruments and utilizing objective assessment criteria, as appropriate for the clientele served by the program. At a minimum, the assessment shall include information drawn from interviews with the minor and with the parents or other adults having custody of the minor, and it shall include information on the minor's probation, school, health, and mental health status to the extent such information may be available and accessible.
(e) If the Youth Referral Center confirms upon assessment that the minor is at significant risk of future justice system involvement and that the minor may benefit from referral to services, the Youth Referral Center staff shall work with the minor and the parents to produce a written service plan to be implemented over a period of up to six months. The plan shall identify specific programs or services that are recommended by the center and are locally available to the minor and the family as a means of addressing the behavior problems that led to the referral. The plan may include a requirement that the minor obey reasonable rules of conduct at home or in school including reasonable home curfew and school attendance rules, while the service plan is being implemented. The plan may also require, as a condition of further participation in the program, that a parent or other family member engage in counseling, parenting classes, or other relevant activities. To the extent possible given available resources, the staff at the Youth Referral Center shall facilitate compliance with the service plan by assisting the minor and the family in making appointments with service providers, by responding to requests for help by the minor or the parent as they seek to comply with the plan, and by monitoring compliance until the plan is completed.
(f) (1) The caseworker at the Youth Referral Center shall explain the service plan to the minor and the parents and, prior to any referral to services, the minor and the parents shall agree to the plan. The minor and the parents shall be informed that the minor's failure to accept or to cooperate with the service plan may result in the filing of a petition and a finding of wardship under Section 601.
(2) With the cooperation of the collaborative group described in subdivision (b), the Youth Referral Center shall review youth and family services offered within its local service area and shall identify providers, programs, and services that are available for referral of minors and parents under this section. Providers to which minors and parents may be referred under this section may be public or private agencies or individuals offering counseling, health, educational, parenting, mentoring, community service, skill-building, and other relevant services that are considered likely to resolve the behavioral problems that are referred to the center.
(g) (1) Unless the probation department is directly operating and staffing the Youth Referral Center, the probation department shall designate one or more probation officers to serve as liaison to a Youth Referral Center for the purpose of facilitating and monitoring compliance with service plans established in individual cases by the center.
(2) If, upon consultation with the minor's parents and with providers designated in the service plan, the supervising caseworker at the center and the liaison probation officer agree that the minor has willfully, significantly, and repeatedly failed to cooperate with the service plan, the minor shall be referred to the probation department which shall verify the failure and, upon verification, shall file a petition seeking to declare the minor a ward of the juvenile court under subdivision (a) of Section 601. No minor shall be referred to the probation department for the filing of a petition under this subdivision until at least 90 days have elapsed after the first attempt to implement the service plan. No minor shall be subject to filing of a petition under this subdivision for a failure to complete the service plan which is due principally to an inability of the minor or the family to pay for services listed in the service plan.
(3) If, within 180 days of the start of the service plan, the minor and the family have substantially completed the service plan and the minor's behavior problem appears to have been resolved, the center shall notify the probation department that the plan has been successfully completed.
(h) If a petition to declare the minor a ward of the juvenile court under subdivision (a) of Section 601 has been filed by the probation officer under this section, the court shall review the petition and any other facts which the court deems appropriate in relation to the minor's alleged failure to comply with the service plan described in subdivision (e). Based upon this review, the court may continue any hearing on the petition for up to six months so that the minor and the minor's parents may renew their efforts to comply with the service plan under court supervision. During the period in which the hearing is continued, the court may order that the minor and the parent cooperate with the service plan designed by the Youth Referral Center, or the court may modify the service plan or may impose additional conditions upon the minor or the parents as may be appropriate to encourage resolution of the behavior problems that led to the filing of the petition. The court shall, during the period of continuance, periodically review compliance with the extended service plan through reports from the probation officer or by calling the parties back into court, based upon a review schedule deemed appropriate by the court.
(i) The juvenile court of any county participating in the At-Risk Youth Early Intervention Program shall designate a judicial officer to serve as a liaison to the program in order to participate in the development of the program and to coordinate program operations with the juvenile court. The liaison judicial officer may be designated by the juvenile court as the principal judicial officer assigned to review and hear petitions filed under this section, or if the court does not elect to designate a principal judicial officer to hear these cases, the juvenile court shall take steps to train or familiarize other judicial officers reviewing or hearing these cases as to the operations, procedures, and services of the At-Risk Youth Early Intervention Program.
(Added by Stats. 1997, Ch. 909, Sec. 1.)