Juvenile probation services in the state of Mississippi operate under the supervision of the Human Services division of Youth Services and Community Services. There are seven district offices for juvenile services in the state, with Harrison County being one of the largest. The Harrison County juvenile probation office is located in the city of Gulfport, where juvenile probation officers are known as youth service counselors.
Youth Service Counselor Duties and Responsibilities in Harrison County
As a youth service counselor, officers in Gulfport, Mississippi do not have peace officer status and are not authorized to carry a firearm or to make arrests of juveniles under their supervision. The primary responsibilities of youth service counselors is to prepare case histories for juvenile offenders, conduct interviews, monitor progress and ensure that juveniles are adhering to their probation sentences. The counselors also work in group counseling sessions in peer groups and in family situations.
Education Requirements and Technical Competencies
All youth service counselors are required to have a master’s degree from an accredited college or university, as recognized by the state of Mississippi. It is preferred that the master’s degree be in the field of psychology, counseling, social work or other behavioral sciences.
An applicant is allowed to submit a petition with the State Personnel Board if they believe they have an equivalent amount of work and education experience that can be substituted for the master’s degree requirement, if they feel they can perform the essential duties of the position.
In order to obtain a probation officer job as a youth services counselor in Harrison County, all applicants must show competencies in the following areas:
- Be in good physical and mental condition
- Be of high moral character
- Have good time management, organizational and administrative skills
- Customer service
- Public relations
- Communication skills
- Working with at-risk youth
- Supervision and management
- Problem solving
Youth Service Counselor Training
Once hired by the Youth Services and Community Services Department in the state of Mississippi, youth service counselors are required to complete 120 hours of extensive training. The classes will teach officers the skills needed to perform the job successfully, including counseling techniques, crisis management, communication skills, administrative duties, testifying in court and submitting thorough reports on juvenile development.
After completion of the 120 hours, entry level youth service counselors are then required to shadow a veteran counselor for six weeks. After the six weeks of on-the-job training, a counselor can then work independently.
Additional Training for Youth Service Counselors
After the first year of employment, youth service counselors are then required to complete 40 to 60 hours of additional training each and every year that they work with the department. During the additional training, they will learn new techniques and procedures, as well as refine the skills they have already obtained during their time with the department.