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Court Programs

This program is a joint effort between the Juvenile Court, all of Ottawa County's schools, the Educational Service Center’s Truant Officer, and the Prosecuting Attorney's Office to thoroughly investigate school truancy problems.

A student missing several days of school each month may be developing a pattern of truancy. This is a cause for concern, since chronically truant children often drop out of school and become juvenile delinquents.

Truancy Mediation is an informal process that helps parents, caregivers, and schools find a fair and workable solution to children’s truancy problems. It is based on the belief that mediation can be an effective means of improving school attendance, reducing the dropout rate, and reducing juvenile delinquency.

Parents or caregivers and teachers meet privately with a mediator. The mediator, who is a neutral person who does not take sides, will set some basic rules and then make sure that everyone has an opportunity to speak. Parties will be asked to listen closely to what is being said. It is important that everyone understand the issues involved and each other’s points of view so that both the families and the schools can work together to resolve issues.

The mediator will identify and summarize the issues that are being addressed. Both sides will be allowed to conclude, and then each person will be asked to come up with possible solutions.

Both sides will share their ideas to create an agreement, then all involved must commit to being responsible for making the agreement work.

Truancy Mediation is not about winning or losing. Truancy Mediation is about giving parents or caregivers the opportunity to get more involved in their children’s education and to help them learn.

Mediation is confidential and is provided at no cost to the families or the schools, for more information please call the court.

The Mental Health & Recovery Board of Erie and Ottawa Counties and the Juvenile Court have collaborated to address the mental health needs of families in Ottawa County. The MHRB provides a licensed professional counselor at the court three days a week to perform comprehensive mental health and substance abuse diagnostic assessments (DA) as ordered by the court.

The goals of this project are to increase earlier and appropriate interventions by the local behavioral health system, to improve access to the behavioral health system for youth and their families, and to provide the court with information to aid in appropriate disposition for youth experiencing substance and/or mental health issues.

When the court orders restitution, the amount of damages is verified with the victim and assigned to the case. The youth and family are responsible for making payments to the court for the assigned amount. The court then reimburses the victim for the amount assigned.

This program is used to assure the youth is not using drugs during the course of their probation. The probation officer will perform the test as a result of information that the youth may be using an illegal substance, or the screen can be done randomly. If the test is positive, a probation violation is filed, if the test is negative, that information is placed in the youth’s file as proof of compliance.

This program serves youth who have been adjudicated unruly or delinquent through the Juvenile Court. When it becomes necessary in the best interest of the child to be placed outside of their own home, this program helps with a portion of the funding. Placements are made in either residential group homes, therapeutic foster homes, relative placement homes, or non-relative placement homes. The placements vary in length of time, but are monitored closely to assess progress being made with the youth and his or her family in resolving the situation that warranted the placement. Reunification of the family is the ultimate goal whenever possible.

The Case Coordination Team consisting of the Juvenile Court, Children's Services, Job & Family Services, Ottawa County Wraparound Program, the Mental Health & Recovery Board of Erie and Ottawa Counties, and the licensed professional counselor at the court meet monthly to discuss strategies for diverting out-of-home placements, monitoring youth who are in placement, and transitioning youth from placement back into the community.

Community Service Program
Youth working community service hours are realizing an immediate consequence to certain negative behaviors.

This program is designed to serve the youth who have been ordered to perform a designated number of community service hours. These hours must be completed at a public service work site, and the youth receives no monetary compensation.

The court partners with Ottawa County Recycling and Litter Prevention to clean up the county’s roadways.


Judge Kathleen Giesler’s FACT program is an innovative model which works with substance abusing and/or mentally ill juveniles, ages 13-17, and their families. By providing Judicial oversight in a therapeutic environment, families experience a collaborative attempt at healing and treatment. The program is based on the widely accepted belief that not all cases are best handled through a formal delinquency complaint. FACT provides participants the opportunity to receive services in lieu of going through the traditional court process.

The FACT program involves wrapping an array of services and support networks around young people and their families. Participants appear weekly before the Judge and work closely with a Treatment team. The Treatment team is a multidisciplinary team of professionals designed to support the participant and their family. The program is organized into a series of phases to help the participant and their family receive treatment and develop new habits.

Ottawa County Student Achievement Program

The Juvenile Court, in partnership with the Erie-Huron-Ottawa Educational Service Center, the Ottawa County Department of Job and Family Services, the Mental Health and Recovery Board of Erie and Ottawa Counties, and the Ottawa County school districts runs the Ottawa County Student Achievement Program (SAP).  SAP is an educational alternative designed to meet the academic requirements of students who need or desire a learning environment different from the traditional classroom but with similar supports.  Students who may be credit deficient or would benefit from the programs and services are given the opportunity to enter the Student Achievement Program in order to make graduating from high school a more attainable goal. The goals of SAP are to:

  1. Increase student achievement.
  2. Develop appropriate social skills.
  3. Develop appropriate academic study skills.
  4. Develop self-control and self-discipline.
  5. Maintain class assignments.

Through academic experiences that stress early and frequent success, SAP creates a positive atmosphere for learning.  Personal growth, self-awareness, interpersonal skills and responsibility for behavior will continually be emphasized in every component of our program.Students’ academic needs are addressed through the Virtual Learning Academy and they complete all their courses online with the assistance of tutors in the classroom. Educational speakers and field trips are scheduled weekly to provide them real-life experiences and present them opportunities they would not typically be exposed to.  Additionally, students participate in counseling, physical education, and team building activities.  Students are encouraged to be involved in their home school activities such as athletics and clubs.

The Student Achievement Program is a quality program that offers students the opportunity to excel both academically and personally in preparation for future career endeavors. In 2007, the Student Achievement Program was presented the Award for Excellence for Outstanding Youth Program by the Mental Health and Recovery Board of Erie & Ottawa Counties.

HOPE Court - Helping Our Families Excel

The Family Dependency Treatment Court is an alternative judicial track with the Juvenile Court System.  This specialized court will deal with parents whose children have been removed from their care or are at risk of removal due to the parent’s substance abuse or mental health issues.

Parents participating in the FDTC program will work closely with the judge, treatment providers and child welfare in a nonadversarial setting.  Plans will be devised to give parents a chance to achieve sobriety and mental health, provide a safe and nurturing home, become responsible for themselves and their children, and hold their families together. 

Family Dependency Treatment Court models have shown that courts need to manage substance-abuse and mental illness treatments effectively in order to promote rehabilitation/recovery for parents.  Therefore, judicial oversight is imperative for the programs success.  It is the intention of the court to foster growth and consistent interaction with the parent in order to promote long term stability within that parent.

Diversion Program

This program has been set up by the Court to allow first time non-violent offenders who are unruly or delinquent an opportunity to correct their mistakes without a juvenile record.

The youth and their parent(s)/guardian will be required to meet with the Diversion Officer. During this meeting the youth’s case will be discussed, a contract will be drafted to include specific rules and requirements that the youth must follow. This may include (but is not limited to) a curfew, community service, home detention, restitution, and apology letters.

The goal of the Diversion Officer is to have the youth and parent(s)/guardian work together and help the youth realize their role in the community, to increase self-esteem and confidence to effect positive changes in the youth’s behavior.



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