Programs & Services

    Educational Services seeks to ensure that youth county wide receive the appropriate educational services as guaranteed by federal and state law from the initial stages of their court involvement. Educational Services empowers parents and gives a voice to students, by providing families with increased awareness about a student’s educational rights. 

    Educational Advocacy provides support for families with navigating the special education process when facing barriers by educating and advising parents who seek support for their students. 

    Educational Advocacy Role and Responsibilities

    • Provide parents with information on parents’ rights and protections regarding participation in their student’s education
    • Help parents gauge their student’s progress and guide parents through the steps to address specific educational concerns
    • Advise parents about available services, programs, and accommodations that could support their student’s needs
    • Help parents understand their student’s eligibility for special services
    • Assist parents with submitting written requests (i.e. initial evaluations, Individualized Education Plan (IEP) reviews, change of placements)
    • Prepare parents for IEP and 504 meetings
    • Help parents interpret reports and evaluations and explain their implications 
    • Review special education documents with parents to check for accuracy and completion 
    • Accompany parents to IEP and 504 meetings to offer advice and support
    • Review disciplinary procedures with parents to confirm the school district’s adherence to special education discipline policy
    • Work with parents and the school team on discipline matters that result in suspensions, Manifestation Determination Reviews (MDR), and expulsion hearings
    • Offer referrals to parents for special education attorneys when appropriate

    Re-entry provides support to families of regular education students facing barriers with school registration, or who are returning to school after being in an alternative placement (i.e. detention, hospitalization, Illinois Department of Juvenile Justice).

    Re-entry Role and Responsibilities 

    • Assist parents with identifying the best school option for their student by providing information on alternative, non-traditional educational options
    • Advise parents of their student’s educational rights, and help parents understand the school’s requirement to adhere to those rights
    • Inform parents of the school registration process to ensure their student’s effective return to school
    • Assist parents in requesting that schools incorporate restorative justice practices and shift away from punitive discipline measures 
    • Work with parents and the school team on disciplinary matters to address excessive suspensions and expulsion referrals
    • Offer referrals to parents for educational attorneys when appropriate (i.e. Legal Aid, Chicago Lawyers Committee, Loyola Law Clinic)

    Requirements: Project Lifeline is a scholarship program for young men and women who have a history of involvement with the Cook County Juvenile Court. The only other requirement is that the applicant has a high school diploma or a GED. There is no age limit.

    History: Project Lifeline has been in existence for 33 years. During that time, over 170 of our recipients have earned either an Associate’s Degree, Bachelor’s Degree or a professional certification. Our graduates are extremely accomplished. Two have gone on to earn their PHD, one a law degree and three are currently employed as Cook County juvenile probation officers. Others have established themselves professionally in a variety of fields and a number have become entrepreneurs.  They have attended colleges and universities all over the country.

    Program: Project Lifeline recipients receive up to $6,000 in financial assistance each year with a total cap of $30,000. They can also receive an additional $3,000 per year in tutoring assistance, if needed. The latter does not count against their yearly budget or lifetime limit. This assistance is over and above any traditional financial aid for which the student might be eligible.

    Project Lifeline also assigns a volunteer probation officer to be the student’s coordinator/mentor. This person is available to the student at any time to assist them in overcoming the obstacles they encounter while pursuing their goal of academic success.

    Application Period: The application period for Project Lifeline is from January 1st to March 31st each year. The application consists of a written essay from the applicant, two letters of recommendation and a copy of the applicant’s high school transcript or GED certificate and score sheet. If the applicant is already attending college, their college transcript will suffice.

    Contact: For further information or to receive an application packet, please contact:

    Tom Schneider
    (312) 914-1575

    The Cook County Dually Involved protocol has been developed to define practice for court-involved children and youth within the Cook County Juvenile Probation and Court Services Department who are also wards of the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS). 

    The protocol creates a multi-disciplinary team (MDT) whose purpose is to:

    • conduct a refined assessment process which takes into consideration strengths, needs, and risks of the target population and their family; 
    • prepare joint recommendations for the court; 
    • develop recommended case plans; 
    • and participate in care management. 

    This new protocol is intended to enhance public safety, reduce recidivism, provide evidence-based and cost-effective interventions, and reduce duplication of services. It also is intended to interrupt the trajectory of deeper involvement in the juvenile justice and child protection systems for the target population.

    Placement Evaluation Workgroup (PEW) was established in 2008 after HB 291/PA 95-0642 was passed and allowed Judges to commit youth to the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) who are under their 15th birthday at the time of sentencing. PEW reviews all cases referred by the court in which the Judge is considering removing the youth from the home due to ongoing non-engaged behavior, stabilization services are unsuccessful and relative placement is unavailable or inappropriate. This protocol was established so that the decision and placement process is efficient and warranted to help reduce the need for residential placement through DCFS and youth and families can benefit from targeted services. This process helps us better serve our goals of ensuring community safety, competency development, victim consideration, and the best interest of the youth and the public. The workgroup consists of a designee from DCFS, Juvenile Probation, States Attorney, Public Defender, and Public Guardian’s office. The goal is to arrive at a consensus recommendation after determining all reasonable efforts have been exhausted to keep the youth in the community and that it is in the best interest of the youth to be removed from the home and placed in the care and guardianship of the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) or alternatives to placement with interventions that may allow the youth to remain in the home. The recommendations are presented to the Judge who makes the final decision on placement. 

    The Open Source Social Media (OSSM) unit Officers represent the department as an active partner to the Chicago Police Department's Crime Prevention and Information Center (CPIC). The unit provides the court and the department with reports to include shooting, vehicular hijacking, homicide, death notification, officer safety alerts, and gang/ social media information. In addition, the OSSM unit responds to inquiries of the court and parties on the completed OSSM assessments.

    A unit of officers committed to identifying and cultivating partnerships with community-based agencies to enhance the probation experience. Partnerships are sought with agencies who are committed to providing youth and family programming that is supportive, responsive, equitable, trauma informed, and allows youth to remain in the community and prevent further system involvement.

    Navigating the juvenile justice system can be emotionally challenging for both youth and their families. Family navigators provide emotional support to families, helping them cope with stress, anxiety, and uncertainty. They listen to their concerns and provide empathy and encouragement throughout the process.

    Family Navigators provide short-term support to youth and families navigating the Juvenile Justice System.

    The goal is to empower families, facilitate communication, and provide support during a challenging time. By doing so, they aim to improve outcomes for youth and their families by ensuring they have access to necessary resources and support networks.