The Youth Aid Panel is a diversion program for first-time juvenile offenders charged with minor offenses that would otherwise be heard by a Judge in Juvenile Court. Juveniles are selected and interviewed by DA staff members prior to intake, where the offender must first admit involvement in the incident at hand. The juvenile is then scheduled for a hearing with one of the thirty one Youth Aid Panels in the city. At the hearing, the juvenile is further assessed by the panel for program eligibility. Juveniles who are deemed eligible are granted a three month contract. The contract may require assignments consisting of a long-term community service projects, written essays or reports, counseling, drug testing, community program participation, and restitution. One panel member is assigned to monitor each juvenile's adherence to the contract until all terms of the contract have been fulfilled. If the juvenile completes his or her contract, the juvenile's record will be expunged if the juvenile remains arrest free for six months after contract completion. If the juvenile fails to fulfill the terms of the contract, he or she will return to Juvenile Court to have their case heard in front of a Judge. If the juvenile is found guilty at this stage, he or she will have a criminal record.
There are thirty-one Youth Aid Panels that operate in neighborhoods throughout the city. Each Youth Aid Panel is made up of community volunteers, who are extensively trained by the District Attorney's Office, and a Philadelphia Police Officer who is assigned to the district.
The key functions of the Youth Aid Panel is to give first-time offenders a chance to avoid a criminal record, and to make offenders understand the seriousness of their actions and the impact on victims and the community as a whole.
The Youth Aid Panel handles a significant number of juvenile cases each year. Most of the juveniles who enter the program successfully complete their contracts, have their records expunged, and remain arrest free. The success of the Youth Aid Panel would not be possible without the people who volunteer their time. Youth Aid Panel volunteers have saved countless young people from lives of crime, while contributing to the safety and well-being of their own communities.
If you are interested in volunteering, please call the District Attorney's Office at (215) 686-7600/ (215) 686-6305/ (215) 686-7620 and leave your name, address including zip code, and telephone number. Or, if you would prefer, an application to join a Youth Aid Panel is provided below. Volunteers must be 18 or older, and must reside in the City of Philadelphia.
Click here to access the Youth Aid Panel Membership Application.