COBB COUNTY GOVERNMENT
Judicial-Citizens Panel Review
In years past, deprived children who were removed from their families and placed in foster care were reviewed by the Court every two years. Needless to say, it was easy for a child to suffer in foster care and there was little court monitored effort to reunify families. That changed in 1989 when the Court instituted the Judicial-Citizen Panel Review Program (Panels). Panel members are specially trained citizen-volunteers who work in groups of five. Each Panel meets together monthly to review the welfare of children in Department of Family and Children Services (DFACS) custody. They consider the progress the child is making, the effectiveness of the current Court order, the compliance of parents and caseworkers with the Court order. This information is gathered by meeting with parents, the child, educators, caseworkers, and treatment professionals at the Panel hearings. Ultimately, the Panel makes suggestions for change that will best serve the child during the next six months. Panel members must be familiar with community services, child development, education issues, drug treatment issues, medical and psychological issues. Their training is provided by the Court and by the Council of Juvenile Court Judges of Georgia. After initial training each Panel members must attend five hours of training per year.
The Panel's ultimate task is to see that the child is in a permanent home as soon as safely possible. The permanent home may be back with parents or guardians who have improved their parenting practices, with a relative, with an adoptive family, or with another permanent home approved by the Court. If the Panels are operating effectively, no child should be expected to grow up in foster care.
|Joshua Weeks||J.C.P.R.||Judicial Administrative Supervisor||(770) 528-2284|
If you desire further information about the Judicial-Citizen Review Panel Program, please call (Program Coordinator) at (770) 528-2284
Other points of contacts include:
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The Community Service Program was designed to allow juvenile offenders to earn their way back into favor with the community by doing good works to offset the time and trouble their offenses have caused. A juvenile offender may be ordered by the Court to contribute a certain amount of hours CSW of labor that benefit a non-profit, helping organization.. The number of hours a juvenile offender may be required to perform is completely within the discretion of the Court. It should be noted that the services performed are after school hours and on weekends.
Community service by juvenile offenders has proven to be an effective sentencing option. Some children have found that they enjoyed doing something good for the community and have continued as volunteers for the various service agencies to which they were initially assigned for community service. The services performed by these youths are beneficial to the citizens, community beautification and preservation of Cobb County.
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Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA)
Fax: (770) 528-2213
Every child should have a safe, loving and permanent home. Each year in Cobb, hundreds of children become entangled in the juvenile justice and foster care programs because they are victims of abuse or neglect. A Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) is a specially trained volunteer appointed by a judge to speak up for the best interest of an abused or neglected child involved in a juvenile court child deprivation proceeding.
The Court recruits, screens, trains, and supervises volunteers pursuant to the Georgia CASA, Inc. and The National CASA Organization standards. CASA volunteers serve as the eyes and ears of the court. They interview anyone who may be able to shed light on the child's needs and personally relate to the child so the child has a knowledgeable friend in the system. The CASA goes to court and makes recommendations to the judge, based on their independent assessment, about what is in the child's best interests. The CASA remains involved to keep the focus on the child until the case is permanently resolved. If a child is ordered to foster care or is returned to a family under certain restrictions, the CASA continues to work with the child to ensure that the court order is effective and is being adhered to.
The CASA may work with an attorney guardian ad litem (GAL) or with the child's attorney, if one is appointed to represent the child in court. The CASA does not provide legal representation in the court proceeding. Neither does the CASA do the work of the Department of Family and Children Services (DFACS) caseworker. DFACS caseworkers are employees of state government and sometimes work on 40 to 60 cases at a time. The CASA is a volunteer who, because they work on no more than three cases at a time, can give the child what others in the system do not have--TIME.
CASA's are citizen volunteers who help our courts and child welfare agency deal with an overwhelmingly difficult and expensive increase in child abuse cases. The CASA's only job is to speak for the child. To inquire for more information see Volunteer Opportunities.
|Carlene Redmond||CASA||Judicial Program Coordinator||(770) 528-2285|
Other point of contacts:
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Rodney Savage, Mediation Coordinator -(770) 528-2389
Mediation is considered (by the Court) for all first-time status offenses and for first-time misdemeanors where the victim is willing to participate. The Court also uses mediation to settle portions of cases and to settle some restitution issues.
Mediation gives the complainant/victim and the offender each an opportunity to meet, talk about the offense, express concerns, and negotiate a mutually amiable agreement. It improves the capacity of the juvenile justice system to aid victims who have been negatively affected by the behavior of the young offender. It also provides an opportunity for youth to understand and acknowledge how their actions have adversely affected the community, school environment, consumer market, etc.
The mediation conference is informal, confidential, and non-adversarial. The goal is to have both the complainant/victim and the offender reach a resolution that addresses all of their concerns.
Mediations are conducted by mediators who have completed a rigorous schedule of training, observations, and certification. They are professionals and students within the community.
The Cobb Juvenile Court has been chosen by the Georgia Supreme Court to participate in a model mediation program to investigate the efficacy of mediation in child deprivation cases. In each of these cases specially trained mediators are provided by the state to assist the parties to reach an agreement regarding the best way to deal with deficiencies in child care that have brought the child deprivation accusations to the Court. The parties may craft an agreement that defines the problems and the solutions to correct them so that the child may find his or her way to a safe, loving and permanent home. Research shows that when people are a part of the process of defining these issues and creating agreeable solutions to them, they tend to comply with the agreements more exactly than they comply with a Court order from a judge. There is no charge to the participants for mediation of child deprivation complaints. Access to the program is through the judges or through the Mediation Coordinator.
Other additional resources:
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Rita Evans , Judicial Program Coordinator
Youth Diversion Program (YDP) is an alternative method for handling cases of youths who are first time offenders and charged with a minor offense. If the youth admits to the charge, that youth may be allowed to volunteer for the YDP. If the child successfully completes the YDP, the child's charges may be dismissed by the Court.
YDP cases are heard by a panel of trained volunteers instead of a judge. After hearing the facts of the case, the YDP volunteers confer and craft a sentence that is appropriate for the child and and the offense. After hearing the YDP recommended sentence the child may opt out of the program and choose a formal hearing before a judge or may sign a contract agreeing to the sentence. If the child agrees, the child will be assigned to one of the YDP volunteers as a supervisor to assist the child in successfully completing the sentence. The volunteer will monitor the child's progress and certify the successful completion of the sentence or report violations of the agreement to the YDP coordinator.
Most cases allowed into YDP are misdemeanors. Delinquent offenses such as shoplifting, criminal trespass, simple battery, public affray, disruption of school and underage person in possession of alcohol as well as status offenses consisting of ungovernable, runaway and curfew violation may be eligible.
Upon successful completion of the program requirements, a recommendation is made to the Court that the case be dismissed. If the child fails to complete the program, their case is referred back to the Court for a formal hearing.
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In keeping with the court's mission statement to protect and restore children within their own home when that is consistent with public safety, the Juvenile Court provides a number of professional treatment opportunities for children and families. While children generally pay for these programs by paying Probation Supervision Fees, there is no direct charge for any of these programs.
The following are among the currently scheduled treatment opportunities:
1. Anger Management (Adolescents only)
2. Boys Group
3. Girls Group
4. Parenting Group (parents and adolescents together)
5. Teach One to Lead One
Also view the Specialized Caseload page for information on Gangs Program, Intensive Probation, and ASAP.
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