York County Juvenile Probation Services  is in need of volunteers to work with troubled youth.

The Youth Aid Panel assists selected youth by allowing them to be diverted to court-sanctioned panels made up of community volunteers. Once volunteers apply, they are provided with training, program coordinator Michelle Breen said. 

The  program's volunteers  determine a  corrective action for juveniles facing either a summary or misdemeanor charge instead of having the child enter the formal criminal justice system.

All panelists need background checks, must be 18 years old or older and have no criminal record, Breen said. They also are required to successfully pass Pennsylvania child abuse and FBI clearances. 

New panel members must attend a one-day training session. The panels meet with the juveniles and their family in the evening once a month, she said.

Over the last three years, 732 clients have successfully completed the program and performed more than 4,800 hours of community service, according to York County Juvenile Probation Services. The program began in 1997.

A statement released by the juvenile probation services program reported that there are youth aid panels in every York County school.

Panelists interview children and their families before deciding the appropriate course of action, which could include completion of community service, apology letters, drug and alcohol screenings as well as writing or research assignments, according to the organization's statement. 

The goal is to address the needs of the victim, community and child, Breen said. 

If the child successfully completes the tasks, he or she will be released from the program, Breen said. No criminal record will be created for the child, and his or her name will be removed from all documents related to the arrest.

For more information, contact Breen at ext. 2643., or Lori Petraco at 717-771-9567 at ext. 2679.

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