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How to work with your child’s juvenile probation officer

If your child gets in trouble with the law, they’ll get a probation officer. Learn what to expect.

What juvenile probation officers do

Your child’s probation officer will be their guide during probation. They will help your child understand and follow the rules until their probation is over. Probation officers may wear badges and have uniforms, but they are not police. They do not want to get your child in trouble. In fact, they want to keep your child out of trouble.

Probation officers believe:

  • There are no bad kids - just kids that make mistakes
  • It’s their job to help your child succeed so this doesn’t happen again

How your child’s probation officer will help

Your child’s probation office will:

  • Meet with you and your child. They’ll want to talk about the case and also your family situation. What obstacles has your child faced? What’s made it hard for them to succeed?
  • Help decide the next steps. Most kids who get in trouble go through an informal probation process, which usually avoids Juvenile Court.
  • Get your child the support they need, like:
    • Counseling or therapy
    • Help finding a job
    • Training to build skills
    • Help with substance abuse
  • Answer your questions and check in regularly. Your child will have the regular contact with their probation officer until probation is over.

What your child needs to do

For probation to be a success, your child needs to make an effort too. They need to:

  • Cooperate. Try to work together as a team. Remember, your child’s probation officer wants to help them succeed.
  • Take responsibility. An important part of this process is for your child to accept they made mistakes.
  • Be honest. Your child needs to be open with their probation officer about what happened and the struggles they’ve faced.

First meeting

Meeting with a probation officer for the first time is hard. Be open and honest and go at your own pace.

What to bring with you

  • Your child’s identification (like a driver’s license)
  • Paperwork related to the case (like court documents)

Questions to ask

  • What are the rules my child needs to follow?
  • How often will my child need to check in with you?
  • Will my child need to go to court?
  • How can I get in touch with you?
  • How long will my child’s probation last?

Don't miss appointments

If your child needs to miss an appointment, they must tell their probation officer before the scheduled meeting. If they do miss an appointment, they need to get in touch with their probation officer right away. They need to:

  • Explain why they missed the appointment
  • Find out if missing the appointment will affect their probation
  • Explain what they will do differently next time so they won’t miss again


Page updated March 25, 2024