Probation Vigilant in Incident Reporting and System Self-Evaluation

Probation Vigilant in Incident Reporting and System Self-Evaluation

Thursday, September 21, 2017

The Administrative Office of Probation (Probation) is responsible for statewide administration of intake and detention alternatives, investigations and assessments, case management/supervision and services, placement, reentry, and financial assistance for juveniles. Youth supervised by Probation are not wards of the State, they have parents, are under the jurisdiction of the court, and Probation is not a custodian of youth. During fiscal year 15/16 Probation supervised 6,223 youth and in 16/17 the annual number of youth decreased to 5,897.

Page seven of the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) Annual Report cites, “After receiving a report of investigation, the agency has the option of accepting, rejecting, or requesting modification of each OIG recommendation before the report is final. The Inspector General, with the Public Counsel, considers each request for modification of a recommendation, but is not obligated to accept such request. Implementation of OIG recommendations is voluntary; the OIG Act does not require agencies to accept OIG recommendations or take action in response to issues identified in OIG investigations.”

Probation did in fact follow this process for the two investigative reports it has received to date. The first report was received June 2016 for an incident that occurred in November 2014 and the second was received in January 2017 for an incident that occurred in October of 2015. By the time recommendations were provided, Probation had developed or was involved in numerous initiatives (see below) that superseded the identified recommendations.

As statutorily obligated, Probation provides incident reports to the OIG for youth who have suffered serious injury or death while under supervision. Probation is vigilant regarding reporting and as outlined in the OIG’s report of those incidents received, 76 were youth on Probation. Of the two Probation cases opened for investigation this year, Probation has yet to receive any communication, report, or recommendations.

Probation Initiatives and Activities

  • Monthly collaboration with Nebraska’s Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) Directors after joint trip to Youth Rehabilitation & Treatment Center (YRTC) by Probation Administrator Brokofsky and DHHS Chief Executive Officer, Courtney Phillips in August of 2015
    • Children & Family Services
      • Office of Juvenile Services / YRTC – Collaboration in improving practices and training partnership for programming consistency, Youth Level of Service/Case Management Inventory (YLS / CMI) / case planning training, prioritized in-person visits for youth in facility & enhanced exhaustive efforts protocol
      • Dedicated staff created formal case management agreement between Probation and DHHS - statewide policy for those youth who do crossover - pending final approval
      • Developed a multi-system Triage Team in July 2016 to staff “difficult” cross system cases and identify gaps
    • Developmentally Disability (DD) – Initiated process to access experts and staff individual cases for eligibility and/or service options; Probation and DD joint presentation at Nebraska Juvenile Justice Association Annual Conference; Development of Probation DD Access Guide
    • Medicaid & Heritage Health – Partnered in development of the State Plan Amendment for Multi-systemic Therapy/Functional Family Therapy, Offered provider support during Heritage Health implementation
    • Behavioral Health – System of Care leader/partner
  • Development of reentry Case Planning and supervision post-YRTC commitment
  • Probation lead Crossover Youth Practice Model work supported by Georgetown University’s Center for Juvenile Justice Reform to implement specific practices that need to be in place within a jurisdiction in order to reduce the number of youth who “crossover” between the child welfare and juvenile justice systems and a united response for those youth who do crossover; Douglas, Gage, Lancaster, Dodge and Sarpy Counties have formalized Crossover teams
  • Probation at the helm of Juvenile Detention Alternative Initiative work supported by the Annie E. Casey Foundation to safely reduce the use of secure confinement without impacting public safety; formalized work in Douglas and Sarpy County, recent system assessment in Otoe County and expansion in Lancaster forthcoming; University of Nebraska’s evaluation of Nebraska’s Detention Screening Instrument
  • Sought grant in partnership with the Robert F. Kennedy National Resource Center for Juvenile Justice to provide an in-depth examination of the framework of statutes, policies and practices to determine how well it is working and whether it functions in a manner that results in the achievement of desired youth outcomes and effective system performance for Lancaster County
  • Held Juveniles who Sexually Harm Training supported by the Center for Sex Offender Management (CSOM); included implementation of a Juveniles who Sexually Harm screening instrument to better guide case management and service recommendations
  • Developed a service definition and rate structure for Professional Foster Care; Request for Qualification has been issued
  • Piloted a Probation Officer Service Recommendation Matrix in Lancaster and Hall/Buffalo Counties juvenile probation to assist officers in ensuring risk and needs are properly addressed in recommendations provided to the court
  • Tested (in Lancaster County) a different response for those youth who have not committed a crime but were found responsible for a status offense, focusing most specifically on truancies
  • Coordinated a group of stakeholders (probation, DHHS, court) to examine juvenile justice practices in California (San Jose / October 2016) that led to reduction in out-of-home placements, especially high-end state commitments
  • Represented Nebraska Juvenile Probation at the Midwest Region’s Juvenile Justice Reform Summit (St. Louis / March 2017) – to examine racial and ethnic disparities, school discipline, defense standards
  • Held on-going trainings, specifically as it relates to trauma and family engagement
  • Engaged University of Nebraska to complete a comprehensive Recidivism Analysis & Risk Assessment Instrument Validation; this is pending with Dr. Wiener
  • Enhanced and aligned Service Definitions in collaboration with the Division of Behavioral Health, CFS, licensure, Regions, etc. 
  • Piloted a screening instrument designed to identify potential mental health needs of adolescents involved in the juvenile justice system - Massachusetts Youth Screening Instrument
  • Provided detailed expenditures per service / per youth to Chief Probation Officers and the Judicial Branch Probation Services Committee; participated in detailed fiscal audit
  • Developed a Voucher Advisory Committee with Nebraska Association of Behavioral Health Organizations representatives, region representation, Medicaid and local providers
  • Established separate juvenile probation investigation and supervision statewide
  • Continued adherence to Statewide evidence based principles – smaller caseloads for officers who supervise higher risk juveniles
  • Launched and expanded juvenile justice home-based initiative (MST, Ecological In-Home Family Treatment Model) - result of public / private partnership, including support from the Legislature and Medicaid
  • Advocated for legislation to provide a foundation for adolescent response to juvenile behaviors (LB8)
  • Partnered in many collaborative initiatives - Connected Youth Initiative
  • Developed, trained, and launched (March 2017) a quality assurance tool to review intake
  • Advocated, through the efforts of state JDAI (an initiative housed within the Administrative Office of Courts and Probation) Nebraska state law to establish that youth placed on any form of alternative to detention must have a hearing within 24 hours, just as if the youth was in detention; it also established a clear definition of what an alternative to detention is
  • Enhanced probation officer training on juvenile intake to ensure adherence to the statute
  • Mandated removal of any alternative that restricts a youth’s liberty after 48 hours if the petition is not filed
  • Districts developed a continuum of detention alternatives in collaboration with local community planning teams (where active); these continuums are documented and on file with the Juvenile Division and in their district intake information; continuums vary for pre-adjudicated youth depending on access to community based aid funds
  • Probation has had a long standing internal Intake Committee; this year, each district identified an intake “specialist;” training for those specialists occurs twice a year in person and information is provided regularly for those specialists to conduct intake refreshers; the two largest juvenile districts have designated intake coordinators that do regular intake refresher training and quality assurance for staff
  • Received specific feedback from Annie E. Casey Foundation regarding mental health screening at detention intake; their recommendation did not suggest adding additional mental health questions to the process as this information has a tendency to inappropriately inflate a decision to detain; statute provides provisions that allow law enforcement to place youth taken into temporary custody, who present a substantial risk of harm to self, to be placed at a mental health facility for evaluation or emergency treatment 
  • Probation issued a new Request for Proposal for Electronic Monitoring and Tracker services in 2016; this new RFP further clarified expectations for communication between officers and providers; a statewide common referral form was developed and trained

See the following links for additional data:

All of this information cited above reflects Probation's commitment to improving the lives of Nebraska juveniles which are placed under our supervision by the courts, highlights the progress we have made, and our commitment to future improvements within the Probation system.