Youthful Offenders

When a youth is on youthful offender status, a Family Services worker and DOC Probation Officer is assigned to supervise probation and help make sure the youth meets the conditions of probation.

Disposition Case Plan

A Family Services social worker will  develop a disposition case plan that describes:

  • The issues that brought the youth to court
  • An assessment of the impact of the delinquent act on the victim and community
  • A description of the youth's home, school, community, and current living situation
  • An assessment of the youth's medical, psychological, social, educational, and vocational needs as well as the youth/ family's strengths and risk factors
  • Proposed conditions of probation that address identified risks and provide for reparation to victims and the community
  • A recommendation as to whether youthful offender status is appropriate for the youth based on the youth’s risk to public safety, amenability to treatment, and service availability
  • A plan for services required to successfully complete probation and be released from youthful offender status
  • The responsibilities of the youth, family members, department, and providers

To complete this plan, the social worker will first complete a youth assessment, (YASI) — a collaborative process that involves the social worker, the youth and the family.

Youth Assessment

The social worker will use the Youth Assessment and Screening Instrument (YASI™) to:

  • Identify the youth's strengths and challenges
  • Measure challenges and strengths (risk and protective factors)
  • Establish goals and priorities for behavior change
  • Gain a clear understanding of what's working well for the youth and family and what the challenges are
  • Develop a plan for services to address the relevant issues

Probation Certificate

Issued by the Court, the Probation Certificate lists the duration of probation and the conditions the youth is required to meet. The Court may, for example, require the youth to:

  • Make amends to the victim (e.g., write a letter of apology and pay restitution)
  • Perform community service for a specific number of hours
  • Stay in Vermont unless granted permission to leave by the social worker and/or probation officer
  • Not go certain places and/or see certain people
  • Live at home or other location specified by the court
  • Participate in services that are therapeutic, educational and vocational

Delivering Services to Youthful Offenders

  • Family Services and the Department of Corrections will both provide supervision of the youth to work toward successful completion of probation, which will result in the youth not having a criminal record as they move toward adulthood. 
  • Family Services is usually the lead agency for the duration of juvenile probation and is responsible for supervision and providing services, except in cases when this has been changed by the Court.
  • Family Services will assign a Social Worker who is responsible for providing supervision and services to the youthful offender. The Family Services Social Worker will invite the Department of Corrections Probation Officer to all Family Division Court hearings, treatment team meetings, and case plan reviews.
  • In cases where Department of Corrections is designated the lead agency by the Court, they will assign a Probation Officer who is responsible for providing supervision and services to the youthful offender. They will invite the Family Services Social Worker to all Family Division Court hearings, treatment team meetings and case plan reviews.  The Family Services Social Worker will assist DOC staff at Family Division Court hearings, including filing any Violations of Probation.

Modifying or Revoking Disposition

If the youth has not complied with conditions of the juvenile probation certificate, the assigned lead case manager will consult with or notify the other Department of potential action. The lead case manager may file a Violation of Probation (VOP) or a motion to modify or revoke the probation at a hearing in the Family Division. 

At the hearing, if the Court finds that the youth has violated the terms of their probation, the Court may:

  • Maintain the youth’s youthful offender status, and modify the conditions of juvenile probation.
  • Maintain the youth’s youthful offender status and transfer supervision of the youthful offender to DOC.
  • Revoke the youth’s youthful offender status and return the case to the Criminal Court for sentencing as an adult. 
  • If the youth’s status as a youthful offender is revoked, the case is returned to the Criminal Division, which will have access to all relevant Family Division Court records.
  • If an adult sentence is imposed, DOC assumes sole responsibility for the case, and Family Court jurisdiction ceases. DCF will then close the case and provide DOC with all relevant information that may assist DOC in the appropriate treatment planning. 

Mandatory Court Review Prior to Age 18

The Family Services Social Worker and partnering DOC Probation Officer will review the case at least three (3) months before the youth reaches the age of 18 in anticipation of the mandatory review by the Court to determine whether the Court’s jurisdiction should be continued past the age of 18. 

DCF shall file a report with the Court prior to the hearing. The report will specify:

  • Recommendations either for probation completion or continued jurisdiction over the youth past age 18. If continued jurisdiction is recommended, the recommendation will address which Department should provide supervision to the youth beyond age 18.
  • If DCF recommends that DOC be responsible for supervision of the youth, DCF shall notify DOC prior to submission of the report, and DOC shall report on the services which would be available for the youth in the event supervision over him or her is transferred to DOC.

If the Family Division Court Judge finds it is in the best interests of the youth to continue the probation and it is consistent with public safety to extend the Court’s jurisdiction beyond the youth’s 18th birthday, they shall make an order continuing the Court’s jurisdiction up the age of 22. 

If the Family Court Judge finds that it is not in the youth’s best interests to extend the Court’s jurisdiction beyond the youth’s 18th birthday, they will discharge the youth from probation and dismiss the criminal case.