The Judicial Branch promotes social initiatives to directly contribute to improving the quality of life in Puerto Rico. Through the Youth Program, the Judicial Branch promotes effective strategies to prevent high-risk behaviors in children and teenagers such as absenteeism, lack of interest in school, low or failing grades in school subjects, and lack of discipline, and reduce their risk of committing offenses.
Achieving Social Cohesion in the Community
The Youth Program is a Judicial Branch initiative that seeks to contribute to the formation of upright and productive individuals to achieve social cohesion in the community through a comprehensive approach to prevention of antisocial behaviors and lack of discipline by developing abilities and skills that serve the community and promote good behavior among the participants.
What is social cohesion in the community?
In general terms, social cohesion in the community refers to the comprehensive process through which the different social groups in a community cultivate healthy relations among each other and individuals can reach their maximum potential by exercising their rights, duties, and responsibilities.
What are the objectives of the Youth Program?
The objectives of the Youth Program include:
- Encouraging participants to stay in school and improve school attendance
- Encouraging participants to improve their behavior to avoid situations that require the intervention of the criminal justice system
- Helping strengthen the affective ties between youths and their family
How does the Youth Program work?
In a nutshell, the Youth Program identifies risk factors in participants and establishes a Prevention and Follow-up Plan based on protective factors. Mentoring is provided through this plan, as well as recreational and educational activities, sports, fine arts, and community service. This entails:
- Interviewing the child and the child’s guardians to develop a profile and identify risk factors and behaviors
- Recommending an appropriate method for prevention or intervention
- Coordinating services, referrals, and orientations for the child’s socio-psychological treatment
- Providing follow up to make sure the participants follow the established plan
- Visiting the home and the community where the participant resides to assess their progress
A mentor judge performs a supervisory role as part of the Prevention and Follow-up Plan outlined for each child, in collaboration with the program coordinator.
What are mentor judges under the Youth Program?
One of the distinguishing factors of this program the mentor judge. The mentor judge offers mentoring, a role unrelated to the judge’s duties to decide cases but does not interrupt such activities or compromise or conflict with the judge’s responsibilities to the Judicial Branch. In broad terms, the mentor judge meets regularly with the participating youth and their family members to bring a positive impact by cultivating trust, support, and guidance and by sharing life experiences. Moreover, it encourages participants to continue their education and fosters affectionate and constructive relationships with their family members.
What is a Youth Program coordinator?
The Youth Program coordinator is responsible for preparing and recommending a Prevention and Follow-up Plan designed particularly for each youth, in addition to providing follow-up on the participant’s progress.
Where is the Youth Program implemented?
The Youth Program is made possible through collaboration agreements with different entities that promote participation in the program. The Judicial Branch signed a collaboration agreement for a pilot project with the Autonomous Municipality of Caguas and the Department of Education. Currently, efforts are being made to expand the program with the collaboration of the Autonomous Municipality of Bayamón.
Can anyone request the services of the Youth Program?
No. The services provided through the program are not available at the request of the general public. Participants are referred by social workers at schools under the Department of Education.
Participation in the program is completely voluntary. Therefore, participating youths must be committed to the program and following their Prevention and Follow-up Plan. The participant’s parents or guardians must show interest and commitment as well.
For more information
For information on the Youth Program, call the Judicial Branch Social Services Office at (787) 641-6600; extensions 5728 and 5732.