JUVENILE CRIME PREVENTION OFFICE (JCPO)
Enriching Youth, Strengthening families, fostering a successful tomorrow…
The Juvenile Crime Prevention Office (JCPO) is the center of youth diversion and prevention services in Putnam County. We are committed to meeting the individual needs of Putnam County youth by teaching prevention methods and refusal techniques needed to become strong, healthy and confident individuals. We fully support the family structure by providing parents and youth with strong defenses against environmental risks for personal growth and enhanced bonding.
Social Learning - We at the JCPO look at behavior differently than most. We recognize disruptive behavior as a form of communication, albeit not in the desired form. In some cases, this can extend to bullying and truancy issues as well. We are aware of the permanent and lasting effects traumatic experiences can have in relation to undesirable behavior, as well as outward behavior in relation to the breakdown/failure of the individual's attempt to verbally communicate. We are ever mindful of the possibility of life-long health related issues due to prolonged trauma or toxic stress. Although we cannot change the youth's environment, we can provide the necessary coping skills and resiliency to help them successfully overcome their individual situation. We understand most people have a built in instinct to survive their environment, but believe the more structure the youth receives, the more successful they can become.
Our History - The Putnam County School District and the Putnam County Sheriff's Office have shared a unique partnership for more than 25 years. The collaboration between Superintendent of Schools Phyllis Criswell and Sheriff Jeff Hardy is second to none. With both agencies invested in the protection and well-being of Putnam County youth, they join forces to provide a unified partnership to fully support prevention efforts for adolescent youth. The result of their unified partnership and investment is the Juvenile Crime Prevention Office: the center for youth services.
The SWEAT Program is a diversion program utilizing a restorative justice approach to juvenile crime, for those who are issued a Juvenile Civil Citations, assigned community services hours, referred by the juvenile justice system in lieu of prosecution or adjudication. It is designed to provide immediate consequences to offending youth through meaningful, supervised community service opportunities, versus lengthy and expensive litigation. The SWEAT program is constructed to accelerate a change in behavior and instill personal accountability within our participants by performing community service hours with direct law enforcement supervision. Additionally, the SWEAT Program reduces the amount of referrals to the over-burdened juvenile court system and the Department of Juvenile Justice, saving the taxpayers of Putnam County thousands of dollars each year.
Recognizing the unique issues and negative influences related to youth and their social conditions, SWEAT participants receive assessments and are screened individually to receive additional support services when necessary. The JCPO provides youth and their families with comprehensive science-based, researched and proven effective prevention programs designed specifically to target and address the contributing factors that perpetuate juvenile crime.
The SWEAT Program uses a correctional approach for persuading better behavioral choices. Participants work community service hours in 8-hour increments on Saturdays, arriving at 7:00 am. SWEAT participants are typically assigned an average of 16 hours of community service work detail. The goal for youth attending SWEAT is for their experience with working hard, having a “jail lunch” and picking up trash to be enough of a deterrent to not have future offenses or behavioral problems.
SWEAT participants must perform work detail by cleaning, picking up trash and yard debris. Under the Supervision of Putnam County Sheriff’s Office Deputies, participants have cleaned multiple sites, including: county roadways, school campuses, city and county parks, local stadiums and sport complexes, the river front and the Putnam County Fair Grounds. They have also performed community service work detail at county landfills, cemeteries, the Ravine Gardens State Park and the Putnam County Animal Control facility.
The CLFC Program is a family strengthening, comprehensive substance abuse and violence prevention curriculum fashioned to provide guidance and leadership to youth and increase resiliency while facing the temptation of negative influences. This program has been proven to show a significant increase drug refusal skills in youth, enhanced communication skills and improve bonding between youth and their parents. It is designed to improve parental knowledge and beliefs about substance use, and to strengthen family bonding. The curriculum has demonstrated the assistance needed for youth and families in high-risk environments, to become strong, healthy, and supportive people. CLFC provides parents and youth with strong defenses against environmental risk factors by teaching appropriate skills for personal growth, family enhancement, and interpersonal communication, including refusal skills. The Juvenile Crime Prevention Office has adopted this program to enrich family units. We believe CLFC is the catalyst our community needs to raise resilient youth, and provide families with a quality drug prevention program. We strongly believe in this program and are confident CLFC will be key in accomplishing our goals for Putnam County's youth and their families.
CLFC is for anyone who can benefit from developing or enhancing:
- Communication skills for positive response to verbal and non-verbal behavior
- Conflict-resolution techniques
- Anger management techniques and a sense of internal behavior control
- Self-respect and respect for others
- Self-awareness and self-worth
- Ability to gain the respect of others
- Individual sense of security and increased and additional coping skills
- Social skills and reducing peer pressure and bullying
- Refusal skills and resiliency to substance use and violent behavior
- Ability to make better personal choices
- Recognizing systemic cause and effect of negative behavior and the consequences thereof
We accomplish these goals by demonstrating the various skills and techniques listed above to empower the youth and reduce the likelihood of caustic choices. Regardless if dangers or risks are perceived, anticipated or in the past; prevention is a common sense approach to promoting safe and healthy individuals. By definition alone, prevention means to keep from occurring, stop or obstruct: to render impossible. Preventing use of Alcohol, Tobacco or Other Drugs (ATOD), in addition to violent or bullying behavior is our goal for all our participants! To promote future resiliency, follow-up case management is conducted for those youth who complete the program. We review grades, attendance and behavior and/or connect them and their families to community resources and appropriate alternative services at a higher level of care when necessary.
IN THE COMMUNITY
While the CLFC Program can be presented within the school setting and is offered at the Juvenile Crime Prevention Office, it is also designed to have a “Community Mobilization” approach. Because we feel the curriculum can increase youth resiliency, our hope is to further mobilize the program and offer our services to other organizations. This portability has afforded us the opportunity to reach more youth in our county. PARENTING - CLFC offers Parent Training and information on risk and protective factors, setting standards, influencing behavior through communication, youth-adult conflict resolution and positive role modeling. We reach out to parents in an effort to directly impact the youth’s environment and increase parent-child bonding. We focus on learning common aspects of human behavior in efforts to understand how youth develop and best practices for influencing good behavior. We teach participants how to focus on the undesired behavior versus attacking the person displaying the unwanted behavior. We delve into cognitive responses which most people use to avoid following regulations or requests. We teach how to respond verbally and non-verbally to avoid escalating the behavior of the person to whom we are speaking. In CLFC, we feel the more you know about how and why a person behaves in any particular way, the easier it will be for you to communicate with them in a positive way. When we learn to communicate more positively, we get a better response and are able to calm bad behavior, versus inciting an increase in negative behavior. Lastly, we offer insight to parents on how to assist their child through the difficult times of adolescence. The five CLFC classes use these core concepts in a group interaction, systemic approach to teaching the curriculum. We feel this promotes investment in the learning process and makes the experience more meaningful for the participant. This approach also increases a parent‘s confidence in talking with their youth, as well as providing access to resources to help overcome problems and concerns. Although the CLFC Program is a prevention program for a variety of risk factors, it is also one of our Juvenile Civil Citation Diversion Programs. Additionally, we provide services to the community by diverting youth from the Juvenile Justice System and providing a resourceful discipline alternative for students of the Putnam County School District. The CLFC Program is open to the public for enrollment. We have evening classes throughout the year at the JCPO location. Enrollment is free to all participants. We encourage any parent with school aged children to attend this prevention program for the useful information and awareness it provides.
Click here to download the PDF Referral Form
The Drug Awareness Program is a family based prevention program designed to educate youth and their family on the dangers of substance use and abuse, and how they may lead to addiction. This program provides education on the lifelong negative effects caused by substance use.
We recognize a Demand Reduction strategy, which refers to efforts aimed at reducing the desire for illegal and/or illicit drugs. We reinforce several major concepts of youth drug prevention research as the core of our strategy.
- The teen brain is still developing. The frontal cortex, the area of judgment, is not fully developed until around the age of 25.
- The longer a child delays using drugs, the lower the chances are of having a substance abuse disorder or becoming addicted to any drug. We encourage a commitment to a drug-free lifestyle for all participants, both youth and adult. Parents are encouraged to establish a “Drug-Free Home Zone” agreement and set expectations for “no-use” rules at home.
- Drugs are an equal opportunity destroyer; every child could be at risk. No one can be certain when nondependent drug use will cross over into regular abuse and addiction. The chemicals in drugs affect all socioeconomic and ethnic groups alike. No group of people is genetically superior to resist addiction; we could all be at risk.
- The drug problem is multi-faceted and it requires cooperation and coordination from all involved. This problem did not appear overnight. Patience and perseverance with youth involved is needed to help them overcome and recover.
Effective prevention requires a continuous and sustained commitment to abstinence. Prevention is positive and forward looking, which strives for a life filled with freedom from addiction while maintaining human dignity. It is not just a reaction against drugs – but a commitment to the future and a cultivation of life changing decisions to encourage and support youth to live healthy, safe and positive lives.
The five Drug Awareness classes use these core concepts in a group interaction, systemic approach to teaching the curriculum, which promotes investment in the learning process and makes the experience more meaningful for the participant. This approach also increases a parent’s confidence in talking with their youth about drugs and alcohol and their ability to find resources that deal with the problem. The Drug Awareness Program utilizes the award winning Creating Lasting Family Connections (CLFC) curriculum. The CLFC curriculum is a science-based, researched, proven effective curriculum.
Our goals in Drug Awareness are to foster better decision making skills, promote and identify safe and informed alternatives and introduce new coping mechanisms to take the place of substance use. We connect youth and family to services or agencies they may need as a result of Alcohol, Tobacco or Other Drugs (ATOD) use or addiction. The Drug Awareness Program educates the family on fostering support systems and provides referrals for treatment and/or services needed at a higher level of care.
We recommend the Drug Awareness Program for any youth who has experimented with or used drugs such as alcohol, tobacco, illegal street drugs or prescription medication; who have been found in possession of any type of drug paraphernalia; or who have favorable attitudes toward drugs or drug use. We cannot stress enough the need for immediate intervention when any of the risks listed above are present.
The Drug Awareness Program is open to the public for enrollment and free to all participants. We encourage any parent with school aged children to attend this prevention program for the useful information and awareness it provides, as well as the introduction of coping skills.
Although the Drug Awareness Program is a substance prevention program, we provide additional services to the community by diverting youth from the Juvenile Justice System and providing a resourceful discipline alternative for students of the Putnam County School District. Drug Awareness is one of our approved Juvenile Civil Citation diversion programs.
Click here to download the PDF Referral Form
The Putnam County Sheriff’s Office Police Athletic League is our youth mentoring program. Our mission is to provide safe activities for Putnam County youth and increase efforts to reduce juvenile crime while instilling positive values, character and leadership skills. Our young people need a lot of guidance to successfully make it to adulthood. The tools they require and the friendships they forge all become part of what they will take with them as they venture into the adult world. It is equally important for youth to understand that the decisions they make in their early years will dictate the path of their future. Our athletic and educational programs create opportunities for them to live and enjoy life, while providing an outlet to rise above the circumstances they face in their daily lives.
It is our goal to afford every youth in Putnam County an opportunity to grow and develop both socially and educationally through caring and positive mentors and community support. A PAL is based on the conviction that if we reach young people early enough in their journey through life, we can assist them in becoming good citizens with strong, positive attitudes toward law enforcement officers. PAL programs bring youth under the positive influence and supervision of a law enforcement agency to expand their awareness about the role of an officer and reinforce responsible values and attitudes instilled by their parents. Studies have shown if a young person respects an officer on the ball field, gym or classroom, the youth will likely come to respect the laws an officer must enforce. Such respect is beneficial to the youth, law enforcement, parents, the neighborhood and the business community, citing "It’s better to build youth than mend adults” (National PAL, 2014). In a county with tremendous support and commitment to youth, our PAL feels we are on the verge of making an even greater impact on the lives of not only our youth, but families and our community as a whole. We are excited about the future and what it has in store.
PCSO PAL takes pride in offering opportunities for our youth to participate and remain involved in positive activities. We take pride in placing our youth as a priority and building lasting and meaningful relationships with all arms of the community collaboratively. Civic responsibility and involvement has been instrumental in building and fostering excellent relationships for our PAL program. PAL has partnered with the Sons of the American Revolution that recognize individuals for outstanding civic commitment and dedication to our country, county, and city. PAL has nominated numerous youth as well as adults, who have gone above and beyond as dedicated citizens of our community, to receive medals of recognition from the local chapter. This affiliation with civic organizations allows the PAL program an opportunity to expose our youth to their responsibility as an adult and prepare them for their role in society.
Faith-based foundational teaching has also played an important role in the development of our youth from a spiritual perspective. PAL’s desire is to employ sound moral and positive fundamental behavior which encourages kindness, compassion and a caring attitude toward others. PAL has seen firsthand the tremendous benefits of youth who have an established baseline belief system. We work closely with the faith-based community and will continue to collaborate with them and invite local faith-based organizations and church groups to PAL events and camps. PAL’s emphasis on positive behavior and good morals has been very well received by parents and community partners.
PAL has found volunteers to be not just essential to maintain program effectiveness, but absolutely necessary to expand and deliver services at a higher level. Volunteers are required to pass a very thorough and concise level II FDLE background screening process necessary to work with youth. Volunteers are approved through the PAL executive board after screening is completed. They are supervised by PAL staff members and report directly to the staff on all occasions. Our volunteers are not financially compensated at any time by the PAL program, but are insured along with staff by our liability insurance, providing it is during the course of a PAL activity or sponsored event. PAL has worked tirelessly to recruit positive role models, mentors and community based leaders for their volunteer programs and needs. At times, volunteers are the foundation of many activities and events, when funding and staffing are limited. If you are in any way interested in supporting PAL or volunteering, please feel free to contact Mr. Barry Stewart directly.
Our PAL has provided enriching summer sports camps to the community for the past four years. Summer camps are staffed by our Putnam County Sheriff’s Office School Resource Officers, PAL staff and older PAL youth mentors. Our camps are designed to instill positive values and to build relationships with law enforcement. In addition to the Putnam County Sheriff’s Office, our community partners, the Putnam County School District and Putnam County Fire Department have been instrumental in supporting these camps. The camps are free to the community and lunch is provided at no cost. We look forward to offering our summer camps for many years to come.
PAL has established deep roots in the community and has a vision to become the focal point for establishing a community resource and outreach center, which would further cement our program and the community together. A community resource center could provide a multitude of services including athletics, mentoring, tutoring and mental health services, when applicable. We believe we are establishing the foundation of what can become a very strong and competent tower of resources for our community. Putnam ranks very high in many areas of need, but the hearts of those living in our county are crying out for a new beginning to re-unite and strengthen the fabric of our community; our PAL can be the cornerstone. We feel we can successfully stand tall in this community and serve as the resource needed for so many youth and families. PAL will continue to expand its partners and resources, and seek grant funds to afford our youth the same opportunities as the wealthier communities across the nation. To accomplish this, we applied for and received a 501C-3 status, which will increase the possibilities of obtaining grants to enhance and enlarge our PAL Program.
We believe our goals and desires align with the blessings we have received over the past four years and will stay committed to serving the youth of Putnam County in the best way we know how. Our PAL will continue its reputation of honesty, integrity and a source of hope in troubled times. We will continue to be a program that stands on moral values and the will to follow our Lord and Savior. We hope one day our PAL will be able to extend its hand to every youth that literally needs a “P.A.L.”
Visit the PAL Website: putnampal.org
Putnam County School District
Putnam County Board of County Commissioners
Putnam County Juvenile Judge
Public Defender's Office
CDS Family & Behavioral Health Services
Putnam County Health Department
Welaka Police Department
Department of Juvenile Justice
State Attorney's Office
Department of Children and Families
7th Judicial Circuit of FL
Putnam County Clerk of Court
Palatka Police Department
Interlachen Police Department
Stewart Marchman Act Behavioral Healthcare