Probation counselors typically work with either adults or juveniles exclusively. Only in small, rural jurisdictions do probation counselors work with both juveniles and adults. In a few States, the jobs of adult and juvenile probation counselors are combined.
Juvenile probation counselors, commonly known as youth corrections counselors, are primarily responsible for overseeing troubled juveniles, however, they also have a number of other responsibilities. Juvenile probation counselors are also responsible for recommending to the courts where juveniles requiring supervision should be placed, for example, a group home, state sponsored school, or a detention facility. Juvenile probation counselors also communicate with the families of juveniles, probation officers, social workers, and others involved with the juvenile. Counselors testify at hearings, complete predisposition studies, and are responsible for overseeing diversion agreements.
Probation counselors provide behavior, substance abuse, and mental health counseling. Additionally, many counselors set up and teach classes for juveniles' families. Counseling services are usually offered by juvenile probation counselors who have earned a master's degree in social work, psychology, or counseling.
How to become a juvenile probation officer:
- To work as a juvenile probation counselor you need, at very least, to earn a bachelor's degree in counseling, psychology, criminal justice, social work, criminal justice or a related discipline.
- It's highly recommended that you have some prior professional experience working with youth. Such experience could include volunteering at a group home, residential treatment center, or youth probation services center.
- In certain states or other jurisdictions, juvenile probation counselors perform the same duties as their counterparts specializing in juvenile probation. In some jurisdictions, they have different responsibilities. For specific information, contact your local probation department. Again, whatever your position, you will need to earn a bachelor's degree in order to have a successful career as a juvenile probation counselor.
- Interview clients and client groups, offenders and other individuals to obtain extensive social, psychological, developmental, family and educational background.
- Conducts initial screenings and evaluation of juvenile misdemeanor and felony offenders; conducts substance risk/needs, abuse and sexual adjustment assessments by the use of specialized diagnostic tools; conducts educational, treatment and clinical programs for prevention and rehabilitation of juvenile offenders and/or families; and investigate allegations that a family is in need of services (FINS).
- Conduct group and individual counseling with other counselors, or under close supervision
- Conduct therapeutic treatment approaches and intervention strategies for clients and client families based on recommended clinical assessment.
- Participates in work activities for interdisciplinary treatment teams and monitors outcome of treatment interventions recommended by the team.
- Develop and implement complex individualized and small group case management plans of social work treatment and service to address identified problems, needs, and behavioral/emotional condition of clients and families.
- Provide specialized individual, family or group counseling, and treatment intervention skills in demanding situations that involve interpersonal, financial, social, legal, and/or health dimensions.
- Provides psychosocial services designed to address the special needs and problems associated with specific high risk populations, such as abused children, juvenile offenders, Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome, neurological trauma or disease, abusive parents and offenders, acute and chronic psychiatric diagnosis, .
- Be co-counselor to other probation counselors on a specialized caseload of juvenile clients with alcohol or drug abuse problems.
- Write psychosocial assessments, notations, and social summaries in client charts
- Prepares correspondence with community agencies and serves as liaison with other agencies including schools, courts, foster care and legal authorities.
Bachelor's degree in social work, counseling, psychology, criminal justice, or a closely related field, and one year of experience as a juvenile probation officer, counselor or social worker.
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