Frequently Asked Questions About Juvenile Justice Services
Who is the legal guardian?
At the time your child is placed with Juvenile Justice Services (JJS), temporary custody is given to JJS by the order of the Juvenile Judge. Parents remain the child’s guardian.
What does custody mean?
Legal custody means, “the right to physical custody; the right and duty to protect, train, and discipline; the duty to provide food, clothing, shelter, education and ordinary medical care; the right to determine where and with whom the minor shall live; the right, in an emergency, to authorize surgery or other extraordinary care.”
What are my rights as a parent with a youth in the system?
Parents’ rights do not change when custody is temporarily given to JJS. Parents have the right to have contact with their child by phone, letter, or visitation as allowed by facility or program rules. Parents have the right to know their child is getting the care he/she needs. Parents have the right and should call their child's Case Manager if there are questions or concerns.
Who makes the decision to take my child out of the home?
After hearing evidence, the Juvenile Court Judge decides whether a child should be taken out of the home. There are a variety of reasons a youth is removed from the home, including delinquent behavior, safety of youth or family, and threat to society.
Who is my contact person?
Your contact person is the Case Manager. Parents are encouraged to maintain close contact with their Case Manager.
Where can I find out more about other programs for my children who aren't in JJS custody?
The United Way and most religious organizations have compiled lists of community resources available to the public and will provide a list of services for their area.
The State offers Utah Cares—a website that lists resources throughout the state. Utah Cares can be accessed at: http://www.utahcares.utah.gov
In addition, local mental health offices have a variety of programs available for children and adults. Payment is on a sliding scale. If the recipient is on Medicaid, then Medicaid will pay 100% of the bill. The legal guardian must accompany minors.
Information regarding mental health offices is available at: http://www.hsmh.utah.gov/community_centers.htm
Why doesn't the state lock up youth?
Juvenile Justice Services works to balance the needs of the youth and the safety of the community. Sometimes the best thing is not to lock them up. Juvenile Justice Services offers a continuum of services--some programs offer a lot of freedom and others offer very little. Youth are placed where their needs and the safety of the community are both served. Only youth that are serious and/or habitual delinquents can be locked up.
Why does the Division give youth so many chances?
Juvenile Justice Services and the juvenile justice system must hold youth accountable for their criminal behavior. Most youth stop acting out after being arrested and paying a fine or attending a class. Youth who continue to get into trouble face much harsher penalties. They may be placed on probation, removed from their home, or placed in detention. When youth continue to break the law, the Court places them in more expensive secure places where they have little freedom. Federal law mandates many of the services provided for youth committed to the custody of Juvenile Justice Services.
When is the next court hearing?
Court hearings are often set at a previous court hearing or when criminal charges are to be heard. Review hearings are usually held every six months. Dates are preset to ensure youth do not get lost in the system and to keep the judge updated on the youth's progress. The date of the court hearing is written on the court order. The Case Manager can give you the date and time of your next hearing.
Where is my child going?
Youth are placed based on their needs and the Court’s Order. Once given custody, the Division of Juvenile Justice Service makes that decision after reviewing the youth’s needs and the options available. Proximity to your home is considered, as well as appropriateness of the placement.
Will my child be safe in this program?
JJS placements are licensed by the state. A youth has the right to a safe, humane, and caring environment. He/she has the right not to be verbally, physically, or psychologically abused. All youth have the right to receive three meals a day. JJS strives to provide a safe environment for youth. If you or your child has a complaint about his/her care, contact your Case Manager immediately.
How can I emancipate my child when I don't want them back?
Parents are legally obligated to provide the basic needs for their child until he/she is eighteen. Emancipation of a youth is a legal process undertaken in the Juvenile Court. Please consult an attorney or competent legal authority for more information regarding this topic.