The Community Service Program provides the means for youth to be assigned to work without compensation for a specified number of hours of service in a non-profit community organization or agency. The Community Service Program was started by the Juvenile Probation Office (JPO) in 1998.
Placement in the Community Service Program serves as a tangible consequence for a juvenile's delinquency through which they are held accountable and responsible for his or her actions to the community in which they offended.
To the fullest extent possible, service assignments will be sought that provide age appropriate, meaningful work opportunities for the participants. By providing the opportunity to have the juveniles interact with others, gaining a sense of satisfaction and accomplishment from the service they perform, the potential benefits of the assignment are maximized.
The majority of the juveniles supervised by the JPO and the Youth Commission Program are placed into the Community Service Program. The exceptions are those individuals who are determined to be physically or mentally incapable of participating. Since the Community Service Program strictly follows the rules and guidelines of Child Labor Law, those juveniles under the age of 14 are excluded from the Program as well.
The juveniles in the Community Service Program do a variety of jobs and projects. However, most of these jobs and projects can generally fall under the category of manual labor and general maintenance. Things like cleaning, washing vehicles, simple landscaping and the like can basically describe the type of work that the juveniles in the program perform. Again since the JPO strictly follows the rules and guidelines of Child Labor, the type of work and that the juveniles are allowed to perform is closely monitored. The work must be age appropriate as the amount of hours that is permitted during the school year and the summer must be within the bounds of Child Labor. When an independent community service site is signed on, a copy of the Child Labor Law Abstract is provided to that site.
At the present time, the JPO has 66 independent Community Service Sites under contract.
Independent meaning that the juveniles assigned to that site go there one their own, the site is responsible for any training that may be required in order for the juvenile to perform their assigned task, supervising the juvenile(s) assigned there, and maintaining a proper record of the juvenile's hours that they perform.
The main questions that are asked by a prospective community service site are about supervision of the juveniles, and liability. As mentioned previously, the site is responsible for the supervision of the juveniles performing tasks for the site. The site must also have their own liability insurance policy to protect themselves in the event of an incident with juveniles (i.e. injury, improper conduct by a member of the site or by the juveniles themselves). The Community Service Coordinator will also recommend to the site that they notify their insurance carrier that they have entered into an agreement with the JPO to allow juveniles to perform community service work. The JPO maintains an accident insurance policy through the State of Pennsylvania that covers a juvenile in the event that a juvenile gets injured while performing community service. The policy covers the initial $100.00 of medical coverage. The juveniles own insurance then takes over. In the event that their own insurance maxes out or if they have no coverage, the accident policy then pays up to $500,000 in medical coverage. The JPO also maintains a liability policy through the County. This policy will cover the site if the juvenile accidentally causes some type of damage to the site. It does not cover the site if the damage caused by the juvenile is intentional or as a result of criminal activity. If this does happen, the site must pursue criminal charges against the juvenile and seek restitution.
The JPO requires a prospective community service site to sign a contract with the JPO. This contract establishes a link between the site and the JPO. It outlines the JPO's responsibility to the site, the site's responsibility to the JPO and the juvenile that will be working there, and the juvenile's responsibility to the site. A juvenile will not be allowed to work at a community service site without that contract being signed by both parties. Once the contract is signed, the juvenile may begin work immediately.
If your non-profit organization is interested in becoming a community service site, please click here.
When a juvenile is assigned to an independent community service site, they are given a timesheet to keep track of the hours they perform. The person responsible for supervising the juvenile will fill in the date and times that the juvenile perform their community service. When the juvenile completes their hours, the supervisor will sign the timesheet and return it to the JPO.
Although each case is different, there is a framework for recommending the amount of community service hours:
Misdemeanor Offense or Violation of Probation - up to 25 hours
Felony Offense - up to 50 hours
Juveniles who were also adjudicated delinquent and were court ordered into placement may have been assigned community service hours as a condition of their release from placement. The hours will be assigned using the same criteria:
Placement for a Misdemeanor offense or Violation of Probation - up to 25 hours
Placement for a Felony offense - up to 50 hours
It should be noted that the supervising probation officer does have the discretion to assign additional community service hours as a sanction for a technical violation of the juvenile's terms of probation or termination from the community service site for which they were assigned.
There is several different special community service projects that the JPO can have the juveniles perform. One of these special projects is work performed for the County of Fayette and the various properties under County management including the Courthouse, the Public Service Building, and County owned parks and vehicles. While the JPO has had the juveniles detail the County vehicles for several years now, its just been within the past year that the JPO has been able to have juveniles in the Community Service Program work at the various County owned properties, namely the Courthouse. The juveniles clean and perform general maintenance work at the Courthouse on Tuesdays and Thursdays of every week. They also wash windows, pull weeds and pick up trash around the outside of the Courthouse when the weather permits.
Since the Program's inception in 1998, the program has grown by leaps and bounds. To date, nearly 37,000 hours of community service has been completed.
The following is a year by year breakdown of community service hours completed:
Community Service Hours
During the summer months, the JPO will take juveniles to the County owned parks to perform various tasks including picking up litter, simple landscaping, and even some simple carpentry and construction work. The JPO will also take juveniles to other various sites under contract with the JPO during the summer months to perform community service. These sites could be boroughs and townships, parks throughout the County, the Fayette County Fairgrounds, etc.
The other special community service project is the summer Litter Brigade Program. It is a Financial Restitution/Community Service Program in which juveniles can earn money to pay on any restitution, fines, or Court costs that they may owe.