Internship with Ocean County Juvenile Services

The Ocean County Department of Juvenile Services offers a full spectrum of programs for interns whose interests lie in working with adolescents in secure and non-secure settings. Undergraduate internships are available in the diverse fields of Social Work, Criminal Justice, Psychology, Addiction Studies, and Management. Graduate internships are also available in Divinity (M.Div.), Divinity/Social Work, (M.Div./MSW), Psychology, and Spirituality. Students working toward either certification or licensure in the field of Addiction Studies may also qualify to complete their required field placement hours. Interns will have the opportunity to work with a variety of departments, programs, and personnel in a multi-disciplinary team approach that allows students a comprehensive, more holistic educational experience.

Students interested in applying for an internship should be prepared to inform our staff of their internship requirements. For example, does the student need to be supervised by a bachelor or masters-level professional? Recently many academic institutions have begun to require a “shadowing” experience for their interns, especially on the graduate level in Social Work. In most cases, we are not able to offer this experience on the Master’s level. However, if the student can be supervised on the bachelor’s level, a shadowing experience is much more likely. Interns accepted for placement with the Ocean County Department of Juvenile Services will meet for individual and group supervision throughout the semester, as required by their institution. Since we receive numerous requests each semester for placements in our Internship program, we regret that we cannot consider those requests from students who wish to volunteer for internships. Students must be enrolled in an academic institution at the time of their application, and the internship must be REQUIRED by the college or university. Additionally, students need to have completed their Junior year in order to apply.

Our most comprehensive and popular program for interns is the Ocean County Juvenile Detention Center, a secure program where interns have the opportunity to work directly with juveniles involved in the juvenile justice system in a detention setting. Since we understand that all interns may not be qualified or interested in working in this setting, Ocean County Juvenile Services also offers opportunities in our non-secure programs, where interns may choose to complete some of their hours. These programs include the Ocean County School Mentoring Program, the RAISE Evening Program, and the Community Service Program. Each of these non-secure programs is described briefly below.

The Ocean County Juvenile Detention Center, a 35-bed secure facility for males and females ages 12 to 18, provides temporary care and treatment for juveniles awaiting legal disposition or already sentenced (committed). Our mission is to provide a rehabilitative environment where residents are encouraged to develop into more secure, productive, and socially adjusted individuals when they return to the community. The Social Services Department offers a diversity of supervised activities including Recreation, Anger Management, Creative Writing, and Academy for the Fine Arts, Pet Therapy, Female Discussion/Creative Writing class, Gang Intervention, Tai Chi, and Wii Computer Recreation. Residents work with an assigned social worker responsible for contacting parents/ guardians to encourage an on-going relationship as long as the juvenile is in detention. Social workers meet regularly with residents on their case load for any concerns, behavior issues, or counseling needs that may arise. The Social Service staff is also involved in the overall treatment and release plan for residents and provides essential information to the Court.

Our comprehensive Social Services Department is also responsible for coordinating resident visits and phone calls with parents and guardians, as well as from authorized professionals including attorneys, probation officers, DYFS workers, clergy, and school personnel. The detention center also houses its own high school on site, and all residents participate in a full day of classes 5 days a week, in addition to special activities including art and library. Interns are encouraged to participate in any and all of these activities, depending on their interest and ability.

The Ocean County School Mentoring Program is a volunteer program that provides safe and nature friendships for boys and girls in 3rd grade and above in some local schools in Ocean County. The program targets young people who might need a special friend, especially when the child may not have traditional family support. When an adolescent loses a parent through divorce, separation or death, the impact can be devastating. And even when caring parents are involved, they are lot always able to meet all the child's needs. Mentoring volunteers are not therapists or tutors, but caring people who offer their time at the child's school to build confidence, to strengthen their ability to achieve, and to model skills for pro-social choices in this complex world. All candidates for mentoring are professionally screened and monitored on an on-going basis. Interns may choose to complete some of their hours working with the staff of the Mentoring Program.

The RAISE Evening Program, adjacent to the Mentoring Program, provides a Reasonable Alternative to Incarceration through Self-Esteem. Its philosophy supports a positive and safe environment for juveniles to learn accountability and responsibility during high-risk time periods. The program provides supervised activities and service opportunities, as well as positive peer groups. The staff teaches cognitive restructuring by emphasizing accountability and personal responsibility. This program offers interns a perspective on juveniles who may be attending this program from juvenile detention, or who may have been in detention previously.

The Community Service Program works with RAISE to allow juveniles required to complete community service hours to do so while attending RAISE. Juveniles working on community service hours may be currently in juvenile detention or may attend the program from their homes. Its philosophy is designed to promote a positive environment while insuring the safety of the juvenile, as well as the community. Interns may choose to work with one or several of these diverse programs, all serving the needs of juveniles in Ocean County.

As you consider applying for an internship at the Ocean County Department of Juvenile Services, here are some questions to ponder:
  • Do I genuinely like working with adolescents, or would I like to find out if I do?
  • Do I have a problem working in a secure environment where doors are locked and security is the number one concern?
  • Can I accept that, as an intern, I am being invited to learn, and not to change the world?
  • Observation of residents in classroom setting
  • Am I ready to learn as much about myself in the supervision process as I will learn about the juveniles I meet?

Sign up iconClick here for the Internship Application, which we encourage you to fill out and send to us as a preliminary step in your decision-making process.

At the time of your interview, you will have an opportunity to ask questions, and to have questions asked of you. As you may understand, not all students who apply will be comfortable working in our setting, nor will this setting be the most suitable for the student's needs and goals. However, our interview process is designed to help students identify and to achieve their own goals, whether those goals are best fulfilled here or elsewhere.