By Virginia Daniel, Placer County Deputy Probation Officer II
I have been working with the juvenile probation population since September of 2006 in various assignments. Having lived in Placer County for most of my life, and being the seventh generation in my family to live in my small town; I have always had a great love of working with the youth in our community. I raised three children to adulthood in this community and now have grandchildren growing up here. The youth in our community are worth our time and an investment into our future. I love the enthusiasm often shared at the prospect of a different and brighter future as they discover options available to them for going to school, working, and living productive lives.
So often the youth we serve are unaware of a different way of life. They have only been exposed to one way of doing things and don’t have an awareness of other options. I feel that a huge part of our job as juvenile probation officers is to expose the youth to resources in the community and show them the open doors that are waiting to help them to change their outcomes. By working with community partners, we are able to provide very positive opportunities for youth who come from the most desperate circumstances. We are also role models for the youth and we can be that one individual who promotes their resiliency by believing in their potential.
I am currently working with a young woman who was using drugs and in an exploitive relationship with an older man when she was ordered into out-of-home placement in a suitable group home. When I first started working with her, and she was reluctant to stop the relationship with the exploitive adult male. Over time, she started making better choices with the support of her group home staff, probation officer and supportive school staff. She got a job in the community she was living in, rented a room on her own and enrolled in online college courses. Fast forward three years and she is a young single mother who is still enrolled in school and looking for part-time work. She has repaired her relationship with her mother and is able to have a supportive relationship with her family members. She has remained sober and has long since ended her relationship with the man who was taking advantage of her.
I also recently ran into another young man I worked with. He was also ordered into an out-of-home group home placement. He completed that placement more than two years ago and I wondered what happened to him, as he didn’t ever get into any more trouble. I was delighted to learn that he is working at Sierra College and finishing up this last semester there and he will be transferring to Sacramento State University in the spring. He has a good relationship with his mother and is living with his girlfriend and has not had any new law enforcement contact. When I saw him, he came up and gave me the sweetest smile and thanked me for everything I did to help him.
There are more stories like these and I could go on and on. The point is that I feel that there is so much hope for the youth in our community and their families. I know that with support from community partners like probation, family advocates, youth advocates, family support counselors, wraparound services such as functional family therapy, guardian scholars program, and school programs, we can positively impact the lives of both the children we serve, their families and their communities.
The Placer County Probation Department is one of the many reasons Placer County remains a safe, productive community to live. If you are interested in learning more or meeting the team in person please join them for a Juvenile Detention Facility open house and toy drive on Dec. 1 from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. at 11260 B Ave, Auburn, CA 95603. You can learn more about this event here.