Juvenile probation officers in Anchorage work in a professional and supportive environment as employees of the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services’ Division of Juvenile Justice. Divided into four sections to provide adequate coverage for the state, the Anchorage Division encompasses the entire region of the city-county.
Juvenile probation officers are constantly working at strategies to provide successful youth rehabilitation, the fruits of which are demonstrated by the continuing decrease in juvenile offenders throughout the state over the past decade, from 5,143 in 2003 to just 2,664 in 2012. Officers were recently encouraged by an allotment of $205,000 for the Anchorage Youth Court in a recent municipal budget vote.
Having What it Takes
Juvenile probation positions in Anchorage are not entry level jobs available to just anyone. Officers must meet certain minimum education requirements and in most cases have previous related experience. Candidates can qualify for positions by meeting one of the three following requirements:
- Bachelor’s degree in:
- Criminal justice
- Juvenile Justice
- Social work
- Guidance counseling
- Behavioral sciences
- Any other closely related field
- Bachelor’s degree in any field and one year of experience working as any of the following in Alaska, or another state’s equivalent:
- Juvenile Justice Officer II
- Military Youth Academy Team Leader
- Criminal Justice Technician I
- Social Services Associate II
- High school diploma or GED plus five years of experience in one of the previously specified fields. College or university coursework may be substituted for up to four years of experience, at the rate of four quarter hours or three semester hours of credit for one month of experience.
Training for New Officers
Newly hired juvenile probation officers are trained at the Division of Juvenile Justice’s (DJJ) Anchorage Training Office located in the McLaughlin Youth Center. The DJJ believes that the process of how to become a qualified probation officer relates in large part to the quality of training provided. Thus great care is taken during the training process that includes 80 hours of pre-service orientation plus 75 hours of job shadowing. After their first year in their new careers, officers will need to attend an additional 40 hours of training annually. Areas covered include:
- Security procedures, restraint techniques, and self-defense
- Sociological studies of juvenile trends and populations
- Counseling techniques and de-escalation
- Responsibilities and rights of juveniles
Applying in Anchorage
Workplace Alaska, the state’s employment website, provides all the resources and instructions potential candidates will need for their online application. Candidates begin by creating an online profile, searching for available juvenile probation officer jobs, and making an application via the position announcement. If there are no vacancies listed, candidates can sign up to be notified by email when there are openings.
Around 40 percent of Alaska’s juvenile probation cases are handled in the Anchorage District. Officers are most likely to begin their careers at one of the following probation units:
- North Field Probation
- South Field Probation
- Aftercare Program
- Gender Specific Unit for Females
- Behavior Health