Youth Custody Programs
In its Declaration of Principles, the Youth Criminal Justice Act states that the intent of the youth criminal justice system is to:
- prevent crime by addressing circumstances underlying a young person's offending behaviour;
- rehabilitate young persons who commit offences and reintegrate them into society; and,
- ensure that a young person is subject to meaningful consequences for his or her offence.
A youth court judge may order a custody sentence when a youth offender requires more supervision and structure than is available within the community. There are two levels of custody available to the youth court: open and secure custody. The court makes a decision on the level of custody based on the risk the youth presents to society, as well as the type of and number of offences the youth has committed.
What are the guiding principles of youth custody?
Youth custody operates under the following guiding principles:
- An environment where youth are safe from harm
- All youth have the potential to change
- Youth can mature and be successful
- Parents and/or legal guardians are included in personal development and case plans
- The needs of young men and young women are different
- Parents are encouraged to express their thoughts, ideas and concerns about their youth
- By working together, we can provide an opportunity for a young persons positive growth and development
- Family relationships are encouraged
What can a youth expect in youth custody?
A primary youth worker is assigned to each youth in custody. Upon placement in the youth custody program, consideration is given to problem areas a youth will need to work on prior to returning to the community. Referrals are made to school programs or other in-house resources, group counseling or community resources to assist the youth in meeting identified needs. The intent of programming in youth custody is to address issues which may have contributed to the youth's illegal behaviour and thereby facilitate the successful reintegration into the community.
The primary youth worker will be the contact person for family and/or legal guardians. The worker will help youth and their family / legal guardians make plans and set goals.
There is an assessment period for each young person entering the youth custody which provides youth and youth custody staff an opportunity to get to know each other.
What is a case conference?
Case conferences are meetings in which youth, the primary youth worker and others discuss individual case plan and progress. The first case conference is held within two weeks after admission. After that, they take place monthly. Usual participants are: youth, parents and/or guardians, Youth Justice Worker, Community Youth Worker, and any person from other agencies who may be involved in the case plan. Taking part in monthly case conferences is important to help everyone see progress.
What are the different kinds of programming?
Youth Centre staff are available to assist and support personal growth of youth. Programs are offered that will assist a youth to meet their needs and those of their family. All youth participate in day programs. The types of activities and programs vary. The programs will help youth with their education, day to day living, and help prepare them for further education or employment. Several clubs and recreational activities are also available including weight club, camp, arts/crafts, and woodworking. An Aboriginal youth can be assigned an Aboriginal Case Worker to assist in navigating the court system and reintegration to the community.
Youth will be helped to decide which program best suits their needs. There are four programs available:
- Individual Academic Program
- Grade Equivalency Diploma Program (GED)
- Employability Skills Program
- Other Specialized Programs
Youth will work at their own academic level. Tutoring is available to help you reach your educational goals.
Youth advise their Primary Youth Worker if attending church services is important. Youth can contact their spiritual advisor at any time and may attend church with family or Youth Centre staff.
Sessions are lead by youth workers to assist residents with basic life skills, such as:
- Cooking / Baking
- Sewing / Mending
Information sessions may include:
The HELP program stands for Helping Educate for Life's Problems and was named by a former resident. This program is held weekly in a group setting. It provides information on substance abuse, crime prevention, personal wellness, anger management as well as other topics. If a session raises questions, concerns, or feelings that youth are not comfortable bringing up in the group, they can to speak with staff. Female residents will be given a choice to participate in the HELP sessions with males or make arrangements for one on one participation.
Youth have the opportunity to use the Youth Centre's gym and games room and may also have access to activities in the courtyard. They can work on personal fitness through both individual and group activity. Youth in Open Custody are encouraged to use resources in the community.
Work programs provide an opportunity to develop practical employment skills in the Youth Centre or in other government departments, municipalities, and non-profit community organizations. Youth Centre placements include general cleaning and maintenance. Community and other government placements are specific to the individuals needs and interests.
The Youth Centre and its programs are designed to promote safety and good health. All Youth Centre staff are trained in First Aid and CPR, and use of the AED (Automated External Defibrillator). Youth receive a medical check up and health assessment by a doctor when admitted to the Youth Centre. Parents and/or legal guardians will be informed of any medical concerns during a young persons stay. Medical and mental health services are provided to all youth at the Youth Centre. These services include: nursing, medical, dental, optical, psychological and psychiatric care. Referrals are made to community resources when appropriate.
Who can visit youth at the Youth Centre?
Contact with Family and Significant Others
Within three days of admission, youth will be asked to make a list of people they wish to call or have visit them at the Youth Centre. The people on their visitation and phone list must be approved by their Youth Worker and parents and/or guardians. There are regularly scheduled visiting times for residents.
Once youth have completed the assessment period and have shown that they are working toward their case plan, youth can apply for "authorized leave" under the Youth Criminal Justice Act (YCJA). This is called "Reintegration Leave". It is designed to prepare a youth to return to their family and community when they are released from custody. Reintegration Leave must be planned in advance and may be authorized for the following reasons:
- Home visits
- Rehabilitation and treatment programs
- Medical appointments
- Community service work
- Work or school attendance
- Humanitarian reasons
Who can I call form more information?
Provincial Manager Custody Programs
Telephone: (902) 569-7680
Fax: (902) 569-7711