Joanna Goldstein and Briane Peters have been appointed to serve on the Lower Merion Youth Aid Panel (YAP), an alternative to District Court for juveniles who have committed first-time non-violent offenses in Lower Merion Township.
The YAP is a restorative justice program of the Montgomery County District Attorney’s Office. It provides a second chance for juvenile offenders to be accountable for their actions to the community. Teens (who are referred to the panel by the police department) and their families meet with trained volunteer panelists, who make assignments that are tailored individually to each youth. The assignment could include community service, research projects, and drug and alcohol education classes.
Upon successful completion of the assignment, teens will have no criminal record.
Now in its 16th year, the Lower Merion YAP comprises two panels of six panelists each. Panel members are volunteers from the community who have been trained by the Montgomery County District Attorney’s office. Gregory FCA in Ardmore generously provides the meeting space for the panels.
Joanna Goldstein, L.C. S.W, a resident of Merion Station, is a social worker with the Steven A. Cohen Military Family Clinic at the University of Pennsylvania. She has spent more than 20 years providing social work services to children and families.
Briane Peters of Bala Cynwyd has a master’s degree in Criminal Justice from Boston University and a bachelor’s degree from John Jay College of Criminal Justice in Forensic Psychology and Criminology. She has worked as a case manager for at-risk youth and adult offenders, as well as with prison systems and transition housing to help reform offenders.
There are many benefits from the YAP process. It saves taxpayer dollars by reducing the number of costly court cases. The involvement of local nonprofits as sites where teens perform community service demonstrates adult understanding of the mistakes that young people make, and connects youths more personally to their community. Organizations interested in serving as a YAP community service site can contact Linda Hasert email@example.com
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