Juvenile court counselors serve as probation and parole officers within North Carolina’s 38 judicial districts. The North Carolina Division of Juvenile Justice within the Department of Public Safety oversees these offices. North Carolina has experienced a significant decline in juvenile delinquency since 2006, with a 28 percent decline through 2011.
How to Become a Juvenile Probation and Parole Officer in North Carolina
Applicants to juvenile probation and parole officer positions must possess a bachelor’s degree in
- Social work
- Criminal justice
A master’s or doctorate degree in one of these areas is also likely to provide competitive advantages during the selection process. Professional experience in clinical, social welfare, law enforcement or detention settings is also highly beneficial. Prior experience with at risk youths is extremely important to obtaining employment and may be acquired through internships or volunteer work with state or community organizations.
Applications along with resumes and college transcripts should be submitted to the NC Department of Public Safety. Minimum qualifications include
- U.S. citizenship
- Possession of a valid North Carolina driver’s license
- Residence within 30 miles of assigned county
- Ability to pass physical, drug test and psychological evaluation
Applicants should also possess the following proficiencies:
- Computer systems operations
- Oral and written communication
- Analytical thinking
- Organizational management
- Client management
Training for Juvenile Probation Officers in North Carolina
The training standards for juvenile probation and parole officers are set by the North Carolina Criminal Justice Education and Training Standards Commission. The four week training program includes instruction in
- Counseling techniques
- Record keeping
- CPR/First aid
- Defensive tactics
- Restraint techniques
- Gang awareness
Following graduation from the training program, new officers receive certification which must be maintained with 40 hours of training each year.
Successes in North Carolina’s Juvenile Justice System
The Juvenile Justice Reform Act passed in 1998 is credited with the dramatic decline. The act mothballed an out-of-date juvenile detention system and replaced it with a more progressive one that utilized community and school involvement. The new system uses more analytical approaches that assign probationers to customized therapies including mental health treatment, life skills training, education and substance abuse recovery. The success of this model is evidenced by the sharp decline in youth detentions, which peaked at 1,400 in 1998, but was still significant in 2012 at 300.
While this has enabled the young people of the state to more readily mature into socially responsible adults, it has presented some challenges to the juvenile justice system, which has experienced a 15 percent reduction in its budget. In response, a series of initiatives have been launched to more effectively use agency resources. These include private-public partnerships, eliminating redundant programs, and allocating funds to only the most successful programs.
North Carolina is one of only two states which include all 16 and 17 year olds in the adult judicial system. The result is that almost 75 percent of these offenders receive probation rather than the detention or treatment intervention they might receive from the juvenile system. These “adults” actually experience a higher rate of re-arrest because they rarely interact with probation officers and have limited supervision.