Juvenile Probation Officers (JPOs) have a tough job and get very little recognition for the valuable service they provide for children in the Juvenile Justice system. Wade Chroninger, a JPO in New Mexico, recently nominated Chearie Alipat for Peak Behavioral Hospital’s JPO Spotlight.
“Every single meeting or communication I’ve had with Chearie about my children on probation that she sees as a courtesy JPO is positive, and she is fully engaged,” says Chroninger. Alipat always makes sure the children know that they have not been forgotten just because they are away from their home town.
Alipat is a courtesy JPO, which means that she sees a child from another area then the child goes back to their home JPO. The children are uprooted from their homes and sent to a strange place. Alipat invests in these children, follows through with the child and their family, and makes sure the home JPO is updated on the progress. Chroninger says that Alipat takes amazing notes.
“Chearie really, truly engages with the child. She makes them realize they are important, and that they are not just tossed aside,” says Chroninger. “I admire the way she invests in the children.”
The first thing that Alipat does when she meets a new client is to listen to their story. Most of these children have been through trauma, abuse, or neglect in their lives. Listening to them helps build mutual respect and sets boundaries. The children are often defensive, so she listens, shows them respect, and puts her bias aside. Hearing their side then reading the report gives better perspective.
“When you are a courtesy JPO, there is limited time with the children,” says Alipat. “But, I still try to build that relationship.”
Alipat says that they are working to change the perspective people have about JPOs. JPOs are no longer just authoritative but try to make what the children have in their lives work. Even though they are a part of the probation system, their job is not about correction, but about community services and collaboration.
For the next six months, Peak Behavioral Health Services will be spotlighting juvenile probation officer heroes on its website. We believe juvenile probation officers are critical to the success of youth in residential treatment and in accessing other resources to prevent the young person from returning to court.
Peak’s residential treatment program partners with JPO’s in coordinating residential admissions, progress updates, and discharge planning. Contact Peak Behavioral Outpatient Treatment Center at (575) 589-3000 for more information or an assessment or visit www.peakbehavioral.com.