The TCOOMI Youth and Family Program — Juvenile Justice
The TCOOMI Youth and Family Program provides services for juvenile offenders who are on probation or parole in Dallas County. The aim of the program is to provide intensive, community-based family counseling to “at-risk” youth in order to prevent an out-of-home incarceration.
Families participate in the program for 4 to 6 months, and during this time serve as part of team comprised of a parole/probation officer, therapist, and mentor. Services include individual and family counseling, skills training, intensive case management services, and psychiatric services.
During the course of treatment, the probation/parole officer, mentor, and counselor will meet with the family 3 to 5 times per week. During these meetings, the family will receive individual and family counseling, assistance in navigating the juvenile justice system, and help accessing community entities such as schools and public assistance agencies. The team also provides 24-hour coverage for emergency situations.
To be eligible for the TCOOMI Youth and Family Program, a youth must be on probation or parole in Dallas County, have at least 6 months remaining on probation or parole, and be referred for the service by the youth’s probation/parole officer.
Natalie is a 16-year-old who was placed on probation for getting into a physical altercation with her mother. She was charged with Aggravated Assault. She did poorly on probation because she would often stay out past her curfew. At home, she rarely did what her mother asked and eventually her mother grew to be afraid of her.
Natalie did poorly with probation and her probation officer placed on an electronic leg monitor. After a couple of weeks, Natalie violated probation by removing her monitor and running away from home. A few days later she was taken to the Letot emergency shelter where she indicated that she was having thoughts of suicide.
Her probation officer made a referral to the TCOOMI program and she was assessed for services. During this assessment, Natalie and her mother disclosed a long history of conflict in their relationship. Although Natalie’s mother did not want her daughter to be placed outside of the home, she held out little hope that their relationship could ever improve. Despite her skepticism, Natalie’s mother agreed to participate in treatment and with the help of the counselor, probation officer, and mentor, she and her daughter have a closer relationship today. They have learned communication skills taught by the counselor during their home-based counseling sessions. Natalie has learned about the triggers to her anger and how to better control it. The team has also helped the family with resolving past-due electricity bills and getting Natalie enrolled in a GED program. Over the six-month course of treatment, Natalie and her mother found that they enjoy each other’s company again and have worked hard to build a better relationship.