Trarrant County Juvenile Services manages the Tarrant County Advocate Program (TCAP) as a key component of a comprehensive continuum of services for juvenile probationers and parolees. Instead of placing large numbers of youth into Texas’ correctional institutions, the Juvenile Services department places most offenders in nonresidential programs. Offenders charged with less serious offenses are typically connected with counseling, community service, and/or youth development programs that aim to interrupt the escalation of minor delinquency in more serious criminality. Other programs in the comprehensive continuum include community service and monetary restitution, family preservation services, a juvenile drug court, nonresidential sex offender treatment, and intensive probation supervision.
Community residents serve as advocates, mentors, and monitors of youth in TCAP. These advocates play a key role in bringing together a support network to surround troubled youths—a child/family team that includes family members, neighbors, child welfare workers, clinical social workers, and community. On average, each advocate spends about 15 hours per week over a 6-month period with the child and his or her family, helping the child develop positive relationships and support systems. Advocates help juveniles find opportunities for work, education, recreation, friendship, and citizenship and serve as case managers to identify families’ needs and help address them. When a TCAP advocate is assigned to a youth, contact with his or her probation officer is reduced to once a month. The program works with youth who are at risk of gang membership as well as with active gang members.
This supportive TCAP network has enabled the county to reduce dramatically the number of commitments to secure-care juvenile corrections facilities. The success rate for keeping youth out of these facilities is 78 percent. Tarrant County’s experience demonstrates the enormous contribution that community residents can make to juvenile rehabilitation programs. Involved residents need to be trained, however. Training for TCAP participants was provided by Youth Advocate Programs, Inc., in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania (TCAP is based on a model developed by Youth Advocate Programs, Inc.).
Gang involvement in adolescence
General delinquency involvement
High alcohol/drug use
High drug dealing
Illegal gun ownership/carrying
Lack of orderly and structured activities within the family
Poor parental supervision (control, monitoring, and child management)
Frequent school transitions
Frequent truancy/absences/suspensions; expelled from school; dropping out of school
Low academic aspirations
Low parent college expectations for child
Low school attachment/bonding/motivation/commitment to school
Poor school attitude/performance; academic failure
Association with antisocial/aggressive/delinquent peers; high peer delinquency
Association with gang-involved peers/relatives
Peer alcohol/drug use
American Youth Policy Forum: Promising program
National Gang Center: Effective program structure
Tarrant County Juvenile Services
2701 Kimbo Road
Fort Worth, TX 76111
Phone: (817) 838-4600
American Youth Policy Forum. (2002). Less Cost, More Safety: Guiding Lights for Reform in Juvenile Justice. Washington, DC: American Youth Policy Forum.