Youth Justice work in Wisconsin is governed by Chapter 938, the Juvenile Justice Code. The intent of this code and the goal of the Youth Justice (YJ) unit is to promote a juvenile system which protects the community, holds youth accountable for their behavior and assists youth and their families to develop skills and competencies that prevent crime. YJ social workers screen cases for jurisdiction, complete assessments, make recommendations to the juvenile court and monitor informal supervision agreements and juvenile court orders. In cases of juvenile delinquency, YJ social workers use evidence-based risk and needs assessment tools and screens to gather information about the youth and their family to help identify specific strengths and needs of each youth. This information allows workers to assess each youth’s risk of reoffending in order to make treatment recommendations, match youth to appropriate services and monitor the behavior and progress of youth in their home, school and community environments.
While YJ social workers primarily receive and process delinquency referrals from law enforcement, they also work with non-delinquent at-risk youth regarding issues of school truancy, parent-child conflict, alcohol and drugs, runaway behaviors and other challenges. In addition, the YJ unit manages and provides a variety of services including electronic monitoring, drug screening, community service projects, Independent Living services, Relative Home Studies, and Stepparent Adoption screens.