Youth and Family Services

The Youth and Family Services (YFS) unit is an innovative program serving the citizens of Arcata since the late 1970’s. This program offers a broad range of services focusing on troubled teens and youth, parenting strong–willed kids, school safety matters, child-seat safety, threat assessments, and critical incident stress management. The Manager of YFS acts as a consultant to APD personnel in all areas of juvenile matters, including criminal and incorrigible behavior, child abuse and welfare, and the victimization of children.

The primary service provided by YFS is our Juvenile Diversion Unit. The Arcata Police Department offers the opportunity for juveniles who have committed a crime to defer a criminal record while completing tasks consequential to the crime. A successful completion of requirements results in the juvenile being diverted from the justice system, dismissal of charges, and the avoidance of a criminal record. Program requirements include restitution, community service, drug testing, and referrals for treatment, counseling, and participation in the Boys and Girls Club Teen Court. In any given year, fewer than 8% of the minors seen in the Diversion Program escalate further into the juvenile justice system.

Assistance for parents struggling with troubled and strong-willed teens is also available through YFS. Parenting courses and coaching are available for families challenged by truancy, lying, curfew, poor grades, attitude, running away, destructive peer groups, and violence. Parents are encouraged to contact the YFS Clinician for assistance. The Parent Project®, a ten-week educational course, is offered twice a year, and 1:1 coaching is available by request.

Families are also connected with local professional groups providing anger management courses, alcohol and other drug intervention and treatment, family/individual therapy, legal/family law services, and educational resources.

The YFS Manager is a member of the Threat Assessment and Response Planning Team encompassing the Arcata schools. This team plans response strategies for school-based threats using up-to-date practices designed by the FBI’s Critical Incident Response Group. The Manager works closely with school and department personnel to deter school related crime, juvenile violence, and gang-related offenses. YFS also participates in the Gang Task Force, Child Death Review, and the Multi-Disciplinary Forensic Team (Crises Intervention Team) with the Department of Health and Human Services, Mental Health Branch.

YFS offers car-seat inspections by a Certified Child Passenger Safety Technician on a walk-in or appointment basis.

The YFS Manager is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) who provides case management, grief-and-crisis counseling, referrals, and assistance to youth and families whether or not a crime has been committed. Families living in Arcata or whose children attend a school in Arcata are eligible for services.