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Orange County's Model Continuum Of Juvenile Justice Services

The Context for Orange County's 8% Solution

The 8% Problem studies not only affected how the Orange County Probation Department handled the supervision of 8%-risk youth, but profoundly changed the department's entire approach to juvenile offender supervision.

Photo: Terri Teaching a ClassThe Probation Department has established a "model continuum" of juvenile justice services, using the 8% research as a basis for assigning youth to those services best suited for them. The goals of the Model Continuum are to: 1) Standardize the assessment process for initially assigning cases; 2) Speed the delivery of services to juveniles placed on probation; and 3) Expand the range of intervention programs and graduated sanctions available for officers to use.

New program components in the Model Continuum include:

  1. Immediate Accountability program
  2. Intensive Intervention program
  3. 8% Early Intervention Program - Youth & Family Resource Center
  4. 8% Challenge Program
  5. Transitional Aftercare

These services are being developed in the cities of Anaheim, Buena Park, and Fullerton in north Orange County at two multi-agency Youth and Family Resource Centers and at Probation's North County Field Services Office. An expansion of these services to other county regions is also underway.

Immediate Accountability & Intensive Intervention Programs

The Immediate Accountability program focuses on youth who rank low-to-medium on an assessment of risks to the community and personal needs. These are youth who from our studies we expect to be in the 70% of first-time offenders who do not go on to become repeat offenders. The youth are linked with community resources in order to complete their court-order accountability requirements, such as restitution or community service hours.

The goal of the Intensive Intervention program is to "hit the ground running" with needed services for first-time wards of the court who have one or two of the 8% risk factors. These are moderate-risk youth, primarily age 16 and older, who could quickly become high-risk youth without prompt and appropriate intervention. Intensive Intervention program officers also supervise cases transitioning back to the community from a court commitment in a juvenile institution of fewer than 90 days. The department intends to soon significantly reduce the caseloads for officers in this program.

In north Orange County, the Immediate Accountability and Intensive Intervention programs are staffed with 12 Deputy Probation Officers overseen by a Supervising Probation Officer. Also assisting are a cadre of community volunteers, including specially trained Volunteer Probation Officers who perform many of the functions of actual officers. Behavioral health and drug abuse specialists from the Orange County Health Care Agency are available to assist with these cases, some Intensive Intervention cases are transitioned to Intermediate Accountability caseloads to complete court requirements.

Youth & Family Resource Center Programs

The Probation Department works in concert with other county government agencies and community-based organizations (primarily under contract to the county) in providing an array of services at regional Youth and Family Resource Centers. The focus of the programming is for first-time wards of the Juvenile Court who fit a profile of youths who go on to become "8%" repeat offenders. Youths age 15 1/2 and younger are served through the 8% Early Intervention Program, while older youth are involved in the 8% Challenge program. In addition, some youth transitioning out of juvenile institutions are also served at Youth and Family Resource Centers through the Transitional Aftercare program.

A collaborative team of staff members from the many disciplines at the centers works together on individual case plans, involving not just the youth but the youth's entire immediate family. Program components include:

  • Transportation to and from the center
  • A full on-site school
  • Intensive in-home family services (for the 8% Early Intervention Program only)
  • Restorative justice
  • Parent education and teen parenting classes
  • Health screening and health education services
  • Drug and alcohol abuse services
  • Mental health screening and services
  • Employment assistance (for older youth in the 8% Challenge program)
  • Afternoon recreation and specialized programming
  • Saturday field trips and community service projects
  • The 8% Challenge program was established with funding provided through the Juvenile Crime Enforcement and Accountability Challenge Grant. For more information on this grant program and other criminal justice funding sources, see the California Board of Corrections website at

Below is a schematic drawing that outlines how new cases flow into the varied programs within the Model Continuum of juvenile justice services at the Orange County Probation Department.

image of Model Juvenile Continum

(Description: This is a schematic drawing that outlines how new cases flow into the varied programs within the Model Continuum of juvenile justice services at the Orange County Probation Department.)