Youth Aid Panel (YAP) Program
The Montgomery County District Attorney's Youth Aid Panel (YAP) Program has been giving juveniles a second chance to have a clean criminal record since 2000. In its 20-year history, the program has helped nearly 11,000 juveniles, ages 10 to 17 (or age 18 if a current high school senior), avoid a criminal record by going before a panel of local, trained volunteers and taking responsibility for their actions. Through the involvement and support of local community volunteers and assigned interventions, community Youth Aid Panels hold juveniles accountable for their actions with conditions that focus on community responsibility while facilitating positive outcomes.
The YAP Program is an alternative to having a juvenile charged with their criminal infraction and having the matter handled in Juvenile Court. Successfully completing YAP means the child won’t have a criminal record that can be found through background checks routinely done by colleges and employers. The program is also designed to help juvenile offenders avoid future contact with the juvenile justice system through the involvement and support of local community volunteers, who serve on the more than 30 active Youth Aid Panels across Montgomery County.
Referred to YAP: What to Expect
- The arresting police officer will talk with the parents/guardians and youth about the YAP Program.
- The police department will send the child’s YAP referral to the District Attorney’s Office.
- The child’s case will be assigned to the Youth Aid Panel in the community where the offense occurred.
- Additional resources from a non-profit social service agency will be provided to some children to assist them with their involvement with the YAP Program.
- The parents/child will be contacted by the Panel Chair to schedule the required full-Panel meeting, which both the adults and child will be required to attend.
- During the Panel meeting, the child will be given an opportunity to explain the circumstances leading up to the offense.
- The Panel will give the child assignments—called resolutions—in the form of education, restitution and/or community service and a timeline for completing them.
- Once all assignments are completed, the child will meet with the Panel for an exit interview before the case is closed.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is there a cost for the youth to participate in the program?
There is no cost to youths or families for participation in the YAP program, which is funded by the Montgomery County District Attorney's Office. Certain offenses may result in the requirement to pay restitution.
Do we have to appear in court before a judge?
No. The Youth Aid Panel Program takes the place of criminal charges being filed and the need to appear in Juvenile Court before a judge. The child and parents/guardians will have to appear before the assigned Youth Aid Panel, which is a group comprised of typically of 5-6 trained adults from the community where the infraction occurred. And they will make assignments—called resolutions—that the child will need to complete.
Does my child need a lawyer?
No, your child does not need a lawyer to participate it the YAP Program, which is an alternative justice program. However, if the child fails to successfully complete the program, the original criminal charges will be refiled and then you may want to consider retaining a lawyer.
What should my child say on a job application that asks if they have a criminal record?
If your child successfully completes the YAP Program, your child does not need to disclose on a job application that s/he went through YAP if the application asks about having a criminal record. Preventing youth from having a criminal record is the primary goal of the program.
Will there be a public record of my child participating in YAP?
The YAP meetings are confidential, and there will not a recording of the proceedings. The District Attorney’s Office does maintain records for who participates in the program and successfully completes the program; however those records are not accessible to the general public.
We are currently seeking volunteers to serve as Youth Aid Panelists in all areas throughout Montgomery County. We are looking for adults of all ages, genders, races, and ethnicities who live in areas of Montgomery County. Criminal history and child abuse checks will be completed on all applicants, at no cost to the applicant.
Apply if you:
- want to make a difference in your community…
- want to have a positive impact on the lives of youth…
- want to promote community protection and juvenile justice accountability…
- want to hold juveniles accountable for their actions while sending a message that they live in a community that cares.
Download an application here: YAP Volunteer Application
For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call the YAP office at 610-551-6628.