A Juvenile Assessment Center will be established that complies with federal law and Nebraska Juvenile Court Law and Practice. The Juvenile Assessment Center shall establish clear guidelines for operational practices and procedures that comply in a uniform and consistent manner with applicable requirements and those of Scotts Bluff County.
The Scotts Bluff County Juvenile Assessment Center does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, ethnicity, religion, national origin, pregnancy, sexual orientation, gender identity, genetic information, sex, marital status, or disability.
The mission of the Juvenile Assessment Center (JAC) is to provide and maintain a single point of entry utilizing a centralized facility for individualized processing, assessing, screening and referring of at-risk youth and juveniles in crisis. The JAC will serve as an initial point of referral and is intended to support a collaborative relationship between law enforcement, the courts, the schools and community support agencies to better serve the needs of youth and families of the Panhandle. Its hope is to offer improved access to mental health and substance abuse services and enhance and improve other resources addressing the pro-social activities, education, employment and vocational training and community engagement of our youth.
In an effort to fill gaps in the juvenile justice system, offer preventative services to at-risk youth in the community and to promote the sharing of information amongst community agencies involved with at risk youth, the Scotts Bluff County Juvenile Assessment Center was formed.
The development and implementation of the Scotts Bluff County Juvenile Assessment Center began with a dedicated committee of community stake holders who began meeting in the fall of 2014. This prompted the initial drafting of the Community-based Juvenile Services Aid grant funded by the Nebraska Crime Commission.
The purpose of the Scotts Bluff County JAC (SBCJAC) is to provide more effective, coordinated interventions for juveniles ages 11-18. These are youth that are at risk for further involvement in the juvenile justice system. It has been identified that juvenile services in the area are fragmented and lacking. By having a single point of entry for juveniles and their families, the SBCJAC will enable the opportunity for assessments, referrals for services and crisis intervention all in hopes of preventing further at-risk behavior and continued involvement in the juvenile justice system.
Oversight Entities/Funding Sources
The initial committee members included: Scottsbluff and Gering Public Schools, Scotts Bluff County Sherriff’s Department, Scottsbluff and Gering Police, District 12 Juvenile Probation, and the Scotts Bluff County Attorney’s office.
Currently, the funding of the SBCJAC is made possible through an annual Community-based Juvenile Services Aid grant through the Nebraska Crime Commission. The grant requirements include quarterly reporting, end of fiscal year reporting and numerous surveys and data collection along with an annual audit.
This project is supported by subgrant No. 19-CB-0508 awarded by the Nebraska Crime Commission and points of view or opinions contained in this document are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the official position or policies of the Nebraska Crime Commission or the Community-based Juvenile Services Aid Program.
Goals and Objectives
Decrease law enforcement time spent with low-level offending juveniles, decrease the amount of youth entering the juvenile justice system, decrease the recidivism rate of youth already in the system and increase the communication flow with other agencies through data gathering and information sharing.
Hours of Operation: The Juvenile Assessment Center shall be operational from 8:00 a.m. thru 5:00 p.m. Monday through Friday with on-call hours extending to 8:00 p.m. and shall be closed on all holidays set forth by Scottsbluff County. A list of such holidays shall be provided to all appropriate law enforcement agencies at the beginning of each year. Updates to the hours of operation and the holiday schedule shall also be immediately provided when necessary.
- Law Enforcement Referral – in appropriate situations, the detaining officer will refer the parent/guardian of the youth to the Juvenile Assessment Center. Such referral shall direct the youth and parent/guardian to the Juvenile Assessment Center where they shall be provided an assessment and referrals to other necessary services. Both the youth and the parent/guardian must be present at the Juvenile Assessment Center.
- Community Referral – if a youth is working with another community agency: i.e. mental health, HHS, etc. and that respective agency feels a referral to the Juvenile Assessment Center would be of assistance to the youth, any and all community agencies may refer.
- School Referral – once the juvenile’s school has exhausted all in-house interventions and feels that the youth would benefit from further assessment and intervention, a referral will be made to the Juvenile Assessment Center.
- Prosecutor Referral – if the county or city attorney deems appropriate, a referral will be made to the Juvenile Assessment Center in situations where a citation has not been issued and/or prior to filing a 3b complaint in an effort to avoid having to take the juvenile to court. Often these referrals will be prompted by a parent/guardian’s request for assistance with an uncontrollable juvenile.
- Parent Referral – A referral from a parent/guardian that feels their child is ungovernable and is in need of assistance.
Uncontrollable Juvenile (3b)
Under Nebraska statute 43-247, section 3b, a petition may be filed in court if a juvenile is: “by reason of being wayward or habitually disobedient, is uncontrolled by his or her parent, guardian, or custodian; who deports himself or herself so as to injure or endanger seriously the morals or health of himself, herself, or others; or who is habitually truant from home or school.” http://nebraskalegislature.gov/laws/statutes.php?statute=43-247
However, Nebraska statute 43-276, section 2, states: “Prior to filing such a petition…the county attorney shall make reasonable efforts to refer the juvenile and family to community-based resources available to address the juvenile’s behaviors, provide crisis intervention, and maintain the juvenile safely in the home.” http://nebraskalegislature.gov/laws/statutes.php?statute=43-276
This means that if you are seeking to have a 3b petition filed on your child/ward, services must first be sought through the Juvenile Assessment Center. Studies have shown that, when appropriate, starting youth out with the least restrictive interventions is usually in the best interest of the child. In many cases, the JAC can provide a number of services that were previously only available after entering the juvenile justice system.