Community Youth Aid Panels

Community Youth Aid Panels

Berks County Community Youth Aid LogoMission Statement

To provide a community based alternative to traditional case processing of juvenile offenders that promotes offender accountability, victim participation and reparation, while increasing community involvement, awareness and investment.

History of the Community Youth Aid Panel Program

In 1999, the Berks County Juvenile Probation Office, under the direction of current President Judge Arthur Grim, began the planning process to develop a Community Youth Aid Panel Program in Berks County. Although the program was new to Berks County, other counties in the state already had panels in place. As such, Berks was able to look at the existing programs without the need to “reinvent the wheel.” Representatives from Berks traveled to see panels and/or training in Bucks, Lebanon, Lehigh, York, Lancaster, and Montgomery Counties. Program manuals and literature were reviewed and the Community Youth Aid Panel Program was born in Berks County. The first trainings were held in the Spring of 2000 involving the Reading, Exeter, and Central Berks Police Departments. Five panels were formed and began to hear cases in the summer of 2000. Since that time, the Community Youth Aid Panel program has expanded to twelve panels encompassing more than 32 police jurisdictions.

The Community Youth Aid Panel (CYAP) process is an innovative diversionary program designed to effectively address the juvenile offender. The panels are comprised of community volunteers who act as an important voice for their community. The program goals include offender accountability, victim participation and reparation, as well as community involvement. 

The panels assist in providing a means to increase the accountability and responsibility of youths for their actions, while attempting to meet the needs of the victim. This process strives to achieve two important goals: first, to prevent the youth from becoming more deeply involved in delinquent behaviors and the juvenile justice system; secondly, to hold the juvenile responsible to both the victim and the community through completion of panel-imposed obligations.

How can you become involved?

Applicants must:

  • Submit an application.
  • Be at least 18 years of age.
  • Submit to a criminal background check, a child abuse clearance, and, if necessary, an FBI background check.

For more information, please contact Assistant Chief Lisa Lewis or Panel Liaison, Karen Knouse.

Application for Community Youth Aid Panel Program