Want to join a panel as a volunteer? Complete our application and return it to the police department where you live or work. Panel membership is determined by your local police department.
What is Youth Aid?
Diversion of delinquent youth has existed since the inception of the juvenile court system. An increase in juvenile crime in the 1960s, along with studies showing that traditional sentences were ineffective, prompted research into court diversion programs. Bucks County's Youth Aid Panel Program - the county's only juvenile diversion program - emerged in the 1970s. Our 22 panels are supervised by Bucks County Juvenile Probation.
When a juvenile commits a criminal offense for the first time, the arresting police officer has two options: The juvenile offender can be formally charged and referred to court, or the juvenile can be referred to the police department’s youth aid panel.
For most non-violent, first-time offenders, youth aid is a better option. To be eligible for acceptance into a youth aid panel, the juvenile must not dispute his/her involvement in the offense. The arresting police department and the parents of the offender must also agree that youth aid is the best choice.
The youth aid panels are staffed with community volunteers. Some of our volunteers have been with their panel for over 30 years. On average, a panel consists of about 4 or 5 members. A police officer is assigned to each panel and acts as a liaison between their police department and the panel.
The panels hear each case individually, and at least one parent must be present while the case is heard. The panel’s job is to interview the juvenile and the parent(s) to determine an appropriate course of action that will benefit the victim, community, and juvenile. The panel will assign obligations, just as the courts would. Some of the most common obligations are: Community service, letters of apology, drug and alcohol services, and writing/research assignments. The panels have partnered with Big Brothers and Big Sisters of Bucks County and The Council of Southeast Pennsylvania, Inc. to provide a wide range of services to youth.
Parents: Take Our Panel Exit Survey
Link to Survey
Assigned an Online Class?
Link to Your Class Here. Click the orange "Find Your Course" button. Select "Pennsylvania," and type "Bucks." A List of 5 Courses Will Appear:
1. Under the Influence - Alcohol Class for Ages 16-21
2. Alcohol Wise - Alcohol Class for Under 16
3. Marijuana 101
MAKE SURE YOU REGISTER FOR THE CORRECT CLASS!
Assigned the Juvenile Drug and Alcohol Awareness Class at the Council of Southeast PA?
Link to their registration page.
Current Options Program Openings,
Lower Bucks: 2 female, 3 male
Central Bucks: 2 female, 3 male
Upper Bucks: 2 female, 2 male
Panel members please note: Options referrals require a six month YAP contract!
Did you Know? Learn More about Options
Read Options Staff Biographies - NEW October 2017!
Understand the role of Staff Psychological Consultant, Dawn Haaz, Psy.D.
BBBS Offers "Sexting" Education Program
The Options Program with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Bucks County offers a program for teens on Youth Aid for sexting offenses. Dr. Dawn Haaz, the agency's Therapeutic Services Coordinator, has developed materials for Options Case Managers to review with youth who have had this offense. The worksheets help Youth Aid teens think about the short and long term consequences of sexting for themselves and for the recipients/victims. The worksheets also offer a couple cautionary accounts from individuals/families affected by sexting. Options Case Managers also provide parents/guardians of Youth Aid teens with a pamphlet on "Talking to Your Teen About Sexting." For more information, please contact Steve Gourley, the Director of Options Services at 215-343-8260 x 111.