Desktop Guide to
Good Juvenile Probation Practice

Juvenile probation should be a focused intervention for youth who need it.

See how this guide can help »

A Vision for juvenile probation

The mission of juvenile probation is to foster youth’s personal growth, positive behavior change, and long-term success.

In order to promote positive behavior change in youth that are placed on probation, probation professionals must use approaches that are adolescent developmentally informed, strength based, trauma responsive, and collaborative with system stakeholders, families, and communities.

About the vision »
Pillars of transformation

Explore the guide

This guide summarizes information about transformed juvenile probation practice accompanied by a resource library.           More about this guide »

Two men talking at a table.

Equity in practice

It is imperative that juvenile probation practitioners and their partners work diligently to ensure that youth are getting the best services to meet their needs regardless of sex, race, ethnicity, language, culture, Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity, and Gender Expression (SOGIE) status, abilities, and socioeconomic status.

Limiting system involvement

Most often, youth who come to the attention of the justice system are engaging in normal adolescent behavior and should be diverted from the system. True diversionary methods keep youth out of the formal system by deciding to warn and release, refer to services, or a community led program.

Five people in front of chain link fence talking

Case management

Effective, developmentally appropriate case management practices that promote well-being require juvenile probation officers to approach each case with the understanding that each youth has a unique set of strengths and needs and that these characteristics should set the foundation for individualized service provision.

selective focus of man smiling near building

Effective responses

Effective responses rely on individualized, strength-based approaches that help youth understand the impact of their behavior and model desired behaviors. Research indicates that an overreliance on control and compliance monitoring is less effective in promoting long-term positive behavior change and reducing recidivism.

Teens walking along railroad tracks in the woods

Role of detention

Detention should only be used if absolutely necessary and it must be a thoughtful process that is imposed with the purpose of protecting the community as a part of a continuum of care for youth introduced to the juvenile justice system.

Two women sits sit on chairs using laptops

Organizational culture and development

The culture of your department is critical to all of the work you do. It is the “set of values, guiding beliefs, understanding, and ways of thinking that is shared” by you and your colleagues and is taught to new probation professionals who join your team.

Resource library

History of juvenile probation

Juvenile probation practice has gone through many waves in response to “pendulum swings” influenced by policy change and societal perceptions of youth delinquency