Alternatives For Youth (AFY)
Phone: (631) 853-7889
Monday through Friday
From: 8:30 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. at either 853-5281 or 853-7889
This program is considered a pre-PINS diversion program that is the first place that parents should call for help with children under the age of 18 who exhibit a pattern of incorrigible behaviors (runaways, curfew violations etc.) in the home. If eligible, interested families are referred on to an agency that provides in-home services beginning within 24-48 hours. A variety of services, including case management for up to one year, can be readily accessed through this program. All cases are screened by the probation department and referred to the designated program agency after screening.
The program provides linkages to services for substance abuse treatment, anger management, mentoring, individual and family counseling, mental health evaluations, and more. AFY starts with immediate, home-based crisis intervention by a Case Manager to stabilize the family crisis, implement a Family Intervention Plan, and link the family with community resources, which help provide ongoing support. Because many adolescents need someone closer to their age to guide them in the right direction, AFY has a group of male and female Peer Specialists who work hard to engage the youth in positive recreational and educational activities, including both one-on-one and group activities. For young women, the H.E.R.S. (Helping Each other Reach Success) peer group focuses on making healthy choices. For young men, the Boys to Men group focuses on the journey of building strong character to improve their life skills. Furthermore, AFY conducts training sessions to empower parents and enable them to better handle their family’s specialized issues and needs.
How to access services:
Call the Probation Department AFY Screening Unit at (631) 853-5281 or 853-7889.
- Do not go to any Probation Department office to initiate the AFY process. The entire procedure can be handled in a phone call. Coming into a Probation Department office will result in lengthy delays, at best, since their locations are not set up to provide AFT services.
- The Probation Department screening unit will determine if you and your family are appropriate for diversion services. You must be able to provide the officer with a pattern of recent incorrigible behaviors that can include running away, substance abuse, or resistance to appropriate parental authority.
- If your case is accepted by the screeners, you will be immediately referred to the Alternatives For Youth Program within 72 hours. The AFY caseworker will contact your family to evaluate your situation and make appropriate referrals.
- The AFY caseworker will work with you for up to five weeks, at which time whatever ongoing services that are deemed appropriate will be put into place.
A family can always reapply for additional AFY services by going through the above telephone screening process. There is no limit, except beyond the child’s 18th birthday, to the number of times that a family can request assistance.
Comprehensive Alternative to Incarceration Programs
The purpose of this initiative is to reduce the jail population and increase public safety by targeting different points in the criminal justice system where services could be provided. The target areas include prevention of the initial commission of a crime, increasing effective Alternatives to Incarceration programs, and reducing the risk of recidivism.
Comprehensive Alternative to Incarceration: The CHANGE Program
Gang activity and gang involvement among youth has been an ongoing problem for all communities. The best approach to prevent youth from entering gangs is to provide gang prevention services before youth reach their teenage years. Research has shown that targeting children before they reach teenage years is much more likely to succeed in preventing gang membership than in suppression strategies aimed at teenagers. In 2015, Probation developed a pilot program “Children All Need Good Experiences” (ChANGE) under this appropriation. The purpose of the ChANGE program is to reduce the chances of gang involvement for elementary age children at risk of becoming involved in gang activities or who may already be involved in gang activities. In addition, the program works to improve children’s school performance and behavior both in school and at home. This program is delivered in collaboration with S.T.R.O.N.G. Youth Inc. in the Brentwood, South Country, and Wyandanch School Districts.
Comprehensive Alternative to Incarceration: The Suffolk County District Court Felony Youth
This Court was created to handle all cases of eligible youth accused on felony charges. The Court operates as a treatment court similar to the drug court and mental health court model. In 2015, two Probation Officers were assigned to this part to supervise those with charges pending in this court. These two officers joined a Senior Probation Officer who has been working coordinating the efforts of Probation and outside agencies.
Comprehensive Alternative to Incarceration: Drug Court & Mental Health Court
The drug court and mental health court accept appropriate defendants with drug or mental health issues and offer the defendants supervision and treatment in exchange for a reduced sentence. In 2015, these courts continued operation supported by staff from the Health and Probation Departments. The Drug Court program was able to increase its capacity and services based on a Federal grant from Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (“SAMHSA”) administered by the Probation Department (see appropriation 3177). The mental health court has experienced an increase in cases and has not increased the social work services. The Mental Health Court identified the need to increase their social work services.