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Youth Justice Services

Wood County Youth Justice System

This Guide was created to help you and your family understand and navigate the youth justice system and the services of the Wood County Family Serices Division available to you.
Youth Justice Family Engagement Guide

Youth Justice Intake Process

Youth court intake is a process of assessing referrals from law enforcement or school personnel for further action through the Youth court process or Human Services. The Youth court or Youth justice services are defined here in Wisconsin State Statutes 938, Juvenile Justice Code. These referrals are for:

  • Delinquency or actions that would be considered a crime if committed by an adult (ie: disorderly conduct, theft, criminal damage to property)
  • Truancy
  • Runaways
  • Uncontrollable behavior

These referrals are assigned to a social worker in the Youth Justice Unit.

Upon receipt of a referral, the assigned social worker will send a notice of intake inquiry to the parents, guardians or legal caretakers of the child; non-custodial parents will also receive this notice. The purpose of the intake inquiry is to gather information in order to make a decision whether the case can be closed, handled informally, or needs to be referred to court.

The social worker will meet with the child and parents, guardian or legal caretaker to gather information to make a recommendation to the District Attorney's office. During this meeting, the social worker will be looking for information about the family and its level of functioning, their relationship with the school and the community, as well as the strengths and needs of the family. The worker will also specifically talk to the child about the circumstances for the referral.

The social worker must make a recommendation within 40 days of receiving the referral. They can make a recommendation requesting that the youth be:

  • Counseled and released
  • Have a case opened for informal services
  • Sent to court

Once that recommendation has been made, the District Attorney's office has 20 days to overturn the decision, agree with the decision, or file a petition with the youth court judge. A youth can be placed on one year of supervision by the judge for a delinquent act or for an offense such as truancy, uncontrollable behavior, or running away. If a youth needs to be placed out of the home on an order, supervision will continue until their 18th birthday, or 19th birthday if they are still enrolled in high school. If it is deemed appropriate for the youth to return home, supervision will continue for a year from the date they return home.

Youth justice social workers use restorative justice practices to hold the offender accountable and allow the victim to be part of the solution. Intensive supervision, home detention, restitution, employment skills and community service programs assist offenders in making right any harm they may have done to individuals, neighborhoods, schools and the community.

Youth Court - Frequently Asked Questions

Click on a question to expand the answer.

Q: How do I get help if my child is out of control at home, school, and/or in the community?

A: If you feel your child is an immediate danger to himself or others, you should contact law enforcement. Call 911 if you feel this is an emergency. If it is not an emergency, you can call Human Services at 715-421-8600.

You will be asked to share any pertinent information regarding your child and family in order for the access/initial assessment worker to give the referral to the appropriate social work unit. As a part of interventions or services prior to court involvement, it may be recommended that you seek services such as individual counseling, family counseling, and parenting resources in the community before a social worker may be assigned.

If a social worker is assigned, he or she will contact you regarding scheduling an intake assessment. This is a meeting with the social worker in order to better assess needs and determine possible services for your family. Services could include helping you locate other available resources in the community; family resource coordinator services; case management and coordination; referrals to group, individual, and/or family counseling; filing a youth in need of protection and services (JIPS) petition to the court in order to place the child on a court order and/or assisting with an out-of-home placement.

Q: How do I get help if I am a victim of a crime committed by a youth?

A: First make sure that the crime has been reported to law enforcement. Cooperate with the investigating officer and give as much information as possible regarding the type of damage and other details regarding the crime.

If you are an identified victim in the police report, the police will report the situation to Human Services and you will be mailed a victim notification letter from a social worker at the department. This is your opportunity to give the social worker your opinion regarding restitution and consequences. You may contact the social worker in person, by phone, or by letter. The social worker will use this information in their decision making and recommend restitution if appropriate. It is important that you provide any documentation that you may have regarding the loss incurred. These documents are time sensitive; it is important you return them before the due date listed in the victim notification letter.

If the youth is referred to youth court, you will also receive notice from the court regarding the hearing. You have the right to attend this hearing and make a statement to the court if you choose. Due to various laws and statutes affecting youth, there are only certain costs that are recoverable in court as well as monetary limits. If you are not satisfied regarding the action taken in youth court, victims do have the right to sue the parents and child in civil court. The victim must initiate this process.

Q: How do I find counseling services for my child and family?

A: If you have health insurance, you may want to check with your insurance company to see which providers are covered under your policy. Other providers in the area work on a sliding fee basis, which is based on your ability to pay. If you are comfortable, you can ask friends and family members for recommendations. You can also look in the yellow pages of the phone book under "Counselors."

Q: How do I get help if my child is refusing to go to school?

A: Speak with a teacher, administrator, or school counselor at your child's school. There may be someone who can help figure out why your child is not attending school. An evaluation for special education needs could be recommended. If your child continues to miss school, they can be cited by law enforcement or referred to Human Services as a habitual truant. The school must follow a certain protocol before they can refer your child to law enforcement or Human Services. This may result in a youth in need of protection and services (JIPS) petition being filed with the court.