Chief Probation Officers Dedicated to Keeping Youth Under Supervision Safe During COVID-19 Pandemic
Following County and State Protocols and Taking Additional Measures to Ensure the Health and Safety for Youth and the Community


Sacramento, California, Saturday, March 21, 2020 — The safety and well-being of juvenile and adult clients, staff, and our communities is the top priority of County Probation Departments across the state. Probation Departments are vigilant and working closely with their county administrations, partners in public safety, in-house healthcare providers, County Departments of Public Health, California Health and Human Services Agency (HHS) and US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to make decisions informed by the latest science-based information.

“One of our many responsibilities during this crisis is to protect the health and safety of all youth who come under our supervision. During the COVID-19 pandemic, probation chiefs have been taking multiple actions to keep youth, our officers, and our communities as safe as possible,” said El Dorado County Chief Brian Richart, President of the Chief Probation Officers of California (CPOC). “Prior to this pandemic, 90% of our youth were supervised in the community and fewer than 10% resided in locked residential facilities. Probation officers have been utilizing the best available health and safety protocols for the youth in our care. Probation has responded to these challenging and rapidly evolving events by working closely with our courts, public safety partners, health care providers, and communities, weighing all factors to determine the safest and most responsible actions for everyone concerned, including youth, families, victims, staff and the community.” 

“County probation departments are taking strenuous steps to ensure the health and safety of the youth  under our custodial care, including instituting strict health protocols, further reducing populations where appropriate, restricting detention decisions, controlling ingress, screening for illness, limiting in-person contact, supporting social connections for juveniles through technology platforms, continuing to provide programming, educational instruction, daily healthcare, healthy meals, and the strong supportive mentorship and guidance that comes from our caring and compassionate staff members,” said Karen Pank, CPOC Executive Director. “During this uncertain time, many of these youth lack the stable environment necessary to safely transition into the community and are at-risk of losing connection to the support systems they have through our programs and which, if lost, would put their health and safety at great risk. Probation is dedicated to continuing a safe and stable environment for juveniles during this unprecedented and unstable time.”

County probation departments are continually updating their actions to be aligned with the evolving recommendations of their county health officials and state guidelines. Below are some examples of recent actions taken by various county probation departments to protect juveniles during the COVID-19 pandemic:

  • Limited intake to the most serious offenses when appropriate and safe.
  • Instituted strict health protocols for officers and other staff including taking temperatures and sending home any staff member who is displaying any signs of illness.
  • Reviewed cases of youth in facilities and conducted early releases of juveniles to their families when there is a safe and stable environment to which they can be returned.
  • Made the difficult decision to temporarily alter visitation and outside program providers for the health protection of youth. The departments are instead using technology platforms to ensure youth still have social connections with family and friends and maintain professional connections to their physical and behavioral health providers during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Established plans to address any need for a youth to be quarantined for COVID-19 symptoms and instituted social distancing protocols.
  • Identified various distance learning and support services to best serve youth during this time.

CPOC and the 59 probation chiefs in the state are monitoring this rapidly changing situation and preparing contingency plans for even greater challenges than currently exist.  New information comes in daily and we will make decisions based on best-practices in health and safety standards for the youth and adults under our care, all of our staff, and the community.

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