About the Juvenile Department
County juvenile departments provide sanctions and services to youth ages 12 to 17 who have been referred by law enforcement for law violations; they conduct intake services and determine dispositions for cases referred. Whether to proceed informally or with formal Juvenile Court action is determined by the Juvenile Director in conjunction with the local district attorney.
The juvenile system values community collaboration in order to provide opportunities for accountability and reformation of problem behaviors. Our primary focus is on ensuring public safety, as well as restoration for victims and skills training for the youth.
The Sherman County Juvenile Department is also responsible for the facilitation of Juvenile Court processes pertaining to child abuse and neglect cases brought forward by the Department of Human Services Child Welfare Division. This entails duties including organizing the appointment of a Court Appointed Special Advocate (see below) and counsel to represent the parties. The Juvenile Department also receives and reviews ongoing case discovery and monitors guidelines under the Indian Child Welfare Act and Title IV-E/ Adoption and Safe Families Act to ensure reasonable efforts have been made to reunify the family and the placement is in the best interest of the child. Child Welfare cases are referred to as Dependency Court and the Juvenile Director and District Attorney act as parties in these matters, ensuring a continuum of services for children.
The Juvenile Director works closely with the local Multidisciplinary Team, school district, behavioral health, Prevention Team, Early Learning Hub, Local Public Safety Coordinating Council, and a wide array of state-wide agencies. Sharing of resources and knowledge is a founding principle of effective juvenile practices.
Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA)
Columbia Gorge CASA is a local nonprofit organization that recruits, trains, and supports community volunteers to advocate for kids in foster care in Wasco, Sherman, and Hood River counties.
CASA volunteers are appointed by judges to watch over and advocate for children who have been removed from their home because of parental abused or neglect and placed in foster care. CASA volunteers make sure that children don’t get lost in the overburdened social service system or languish in foster care. Our volunteers stay with each case until it is closed and the child is placed in a safe, permanent home. For many children, their CASA volunteer will be the one constant adult presence in their lives during this traumatic time.
To train as a volunteer, contact Columbia Gorge CASA at (541) 386-3468.