PINS is the acronym for Persons in Need of Supervision. A PINS is defined as a youth under 18 years old who has been adjudicated by a Family Court judge because he/she has been found to be incorrigible or truant as defined in Article 7 of the Family Court Act.
The primary objective of the Pre-PINS Program is to divert youth from Family Court and out of the criminal justice system. The Oneida County Pre-PINS Program is aimed at helping youth and their parents/guardians improve incorrigibility and truancy issues through a voluntary preventive service. Parents can refer a youth for incorrigible behavior in their home. The Family Court Act SS712b defines an incorrigible youth as a youth who is “ungovernable or habitually disobedient and beyond the lawful control of a parent or other lawful authority”. Diversion referrals must document a pattern of incorrigibility that should include some form of harassment or physical threat.
School staff can refer a youth for incorrigible and truant behavior in school. Truancy is an unexcused illegal absence from school. Unexcused absences include situations in which a youths’ parent/guardian reports that the youth refuses to attend school, reports that the youth left the home for school but school records reveal an absence, or reports that the youth has runaway and is missing.
An absence is illegal if a youth is allowed by the parent/guardian to stay home from school for reasons other than physical or mental health, emergencies, or family death. However, if the school staff accepts an excuse from the youths parent/guardian it is considered a legal excuse.
Referrals for Pre-PINS must document a minimum of 10 illegal or unexcused absences. Any absence coded as “sick” is considered a legal absence and cannot be addressed via the Probation Department or Family Court.
Police officers can refer a youth for issues with marijuana.
Probation officers review referrals and can defer for community based services or open a case. When Pre-PINS cases are opened, the youth’s behavior is monitored for an indefinite time period. If the youth is successful in adjusting their behavior, the case will be closed. If the youth is not successful in adjusting their behaviors and it is determined that diligent efforts have been made and that there is no substantial likelihood that the youth would benefit from further services, approval to file a formal PINS petition can be granted. A youth must be offered Diversion Services prior to a PINS petition being filed in Family Court, unless the youth is a runaway.
Pre-PINS Referral Process
Parents can make inquiries directly to the Utica and Rome offices of the Probation Department. Parents are required to seek out services prior to a case being opened as some early intervention may alleviate the issues. If services have been attempted and the behaviors continue parents/guardians can initiate a referral by calling the Probation Department.
If the parent/guardian is seeking help for a youth that has runaway and his/her location is unknown, a Missing Persons Report must be filed with the appropriate law enforcement agency prior to contacting the Probation Department. If a report has been filed and the youth is still unable to be located, then the parent/guardian can go to the probation office to obtain paperwork necessary to file an emergency PINS petition in Family Court.
School staff is to determine what the youth’s issues for the current school year are and hold a case conference to develop a plan of action. After meeting with the youth and their parents, school staff must make referrals for school and community based services, determine if the youth is in the correct classroom placement, and make a report to the New York State Central Registry if there is a suspicion that the parent/guardian is abusive or neglectful. In cases where there is a pattern of illegal absences and the parents/guardian refuses to cooperate with the school, a Registry report of educational neglect should be made. The Mandated Reporters hotline number is 1-800-635-1522.
In cases involving Special Education Students a manifestation determination hearing must be held to determine whether the incorrigibility or truancy is a manifestation of the youth’s disability. If no manifestation is found and attempts at services have failed the case should be referred to the Probation Department. A copy of the hearing results must be submitted with the referral.
Examples of community based services include counseling, mental health evaluations, mediation services through the Peacemaker’s Program, Preventive Services through the Oneida County Department of Social Services, and substance abuse evaluations, Examples of school based services are IRT, Safe Schools Programs, and School Based Probation. If there is no change in the youth’s behavior or attendance after attempted interventions, then the school staff should make a referral to the Probation Department (see Appendix A for the referral form).
Prior to making referrals to the Probation Department, the school staff is to seek a release of information from the youth’s parents/guardians. Referrals can be made without a release form; however, other pertinent information such as report cards, official attendance and disciplinary records, and information contained in special education records cannot be released without consent (see Appendix B for the Authorization form).