The mission of Alternative Programs is to provide youth accountability, community service, restitution to victims, and employment skills to youth - All for the benefit and safety of the community.
The program focus is on earning and paying restitution to crime victims. It also provides the opportunity for youth to learn basic prosocial skills, desirable work habits, and exposes them employment expectations. All money earned is applied toward a youth's restitution until it is completely paid. The program usually has a waiting list for the available slots which requires that most youth leave the program once restitution is paid. In some circumstances a youthmay continue in the program and have the opportunity to continue earning money. Thiswould be done in accordance with the youth's case plan.Additional money earned in the program through contracts supports portions of the program operations. Focused Utilization of Employment and Labor (FUEL):This component is the vocational training program. Youth are generally older, looking at independent living, and employment to support themselves. The program period is indefinite with the focus on youth learning a skilled trade. Youth must demonstrate a higher level of self-management to get into the program. The focuses is on increasing responsibility, higher level skills, and payment of restitution to crime victims.FUEL work includes construction, mechanics, metal work and wood working, and trade skills. Each youth receives an extensive exposure to different trades, and can select an area of interest to increase their skills which paves the way into the job market. The job responsibilites all fill actual needs. The mechanics program provides all of the maintenance for the Alternative Programs trucks, lawn mowers, chain saws, and other equipment used on Matrix jobs, and does all maintenance on the County vehicles used by probation officers, and other program staff. FUEL participants built the wood bays that store the firewood sold, laid the concrete walkway on the Juvenile Campus, and built the Fresh Start Market and Coffee Shop, and the Community Connections Conference room. In the past, the program revitalized a repossessed property which was later sold.Safety:Safety is a critical component of the Alternative Programs. Staff are required to participate in regular training involving first aid, fire extinguishers, hazardous materials, and equipment inspection training. At quarterly in-service training, staff evaluate tools, equipment, policy and practices to ensure youth and staff safety while in the program.Youth are also required to participate in a safety awareness program before beginning work. Safety equipment is mandatory as appropriate for each job. Youth are trained daily on safety requirements for the job they are involved in that day, and also are evaluated daily and awarded points for adhering to safe practices. These youth have engaged in behaviors in their lives that have created risks for themselves and others. Focusing on safety not only provides for the well-being of youth, staff and the community, but also models for youth the value of being safe, thinking about risk, and taking positive action to mitigate risk.