Court Referral

Need to make an appointment? Call 573-3360 and speak with our professional staff who help you find a non-profit organization to complete your court-ordered community service.

Program Information
Volunteer Center of Sonoma County Court Referral Program was established in Sonoma County in 1976.  Court Referral Program believes community service gives people an opportunity to grow and be transformed.  The program’s partnerships with non-profit organizations enable our clients to change their behavior by learning new skills, building healthier relationships, gaining employment, and finding meaningful ways to give their time to people in need.  Court Referral clients serve meals to the elderly, clean county and city parks, plant trees, sort food donations, remove graffiti, create websites, test software, and set up local fundraising events. 

Volunteer placements are made on the basis of a face to face interview to determine the client's skills, availability and limitations. Clients are matched to a community agency to do a wide variety of tasks.  All of these tasks enhance the ability of the non-profit organization to provide services to the community.  Non-profit organizations thrive and expand services through the use of community service volunteers.  The collaborative nature of the program benefits the client, the non-profit organization, and the community.

Court Referral Program is designed to provide a service to people who elect to volunteer rather than pay a court fine or for situations where some consequence is desired.  The program provides placement, follow-up, and reports on clients referred to complete community service work through the court system.  Volunteers referred to the program may be from Traffic Court, Adult Diversion Services, Adult and Juvenile Probation Departments, or Sonoma County Superior Court. 

Interviews are done in-person only at the Volunteer Center of Sonoma County in Santa Rosa.  A program fee is charged for each referral.  The fee is based on the number of hours that are assigned by court.  Contact program staff for the current fee schedule.  Waivers or reductions in fees can be arranged directly with the program.

An individual sentenced in Sonoma County, who lives outside of this county, should contact program staff for instructions on how to arrange to do the assigned work where they live.  Similarly, a person who was assigned community service work in some other county or state and lives in Sonoma County should arrange a transfer to this program from the sentencing county.  For assistance, please call program staff.

Our goal is to interview 5,100 or more clients for the year; for 80% or more of the interviewed clients to complete all of their assigned work; and for  clients to complete 143,000 hours or more of community service in non-profit organizations for the year.

At the end of the 2014 fiscal year, the program received 6,145 new referrals from court or probation.  During this same time period, the program interviewed 4,931 clients for an 84% success rate and 197,150 hours of work completed.  Clients from the Court Referral Program volunteered during the year at over 450 different non-profit or tax supported sites within Sonoma County. 

Volunteer Center of Sonoma County, Court Referral Program conducts telephone exit surveys with youth who successfully complete their community service assignments.  77% of juvenile probation clients responded. 

Outcome #1 Skill Building:  99% of juvenile probationers surveyed reported increases in knowledge in the area of skill building. 

Concrete or task-oriented skill:  73% (ie. using computer or certain software programs, operating shredder or office equipment, multi-line telephone, feeding animals, pallet lift, pricing guns, maintenance/construction, etc.)

Professional development:  77% (ie. time-management, multi-tasking, prioritizing work, attention to detail, taking initiative, etc.)

Social skills:  80% (ie. providing good customer service, effectively communicating with co-workers/staff, networking with co-workers/volunteers, introducing yourself to others, asking questions at appropriate times, listening intently and following instructions, social cues, pro-social behavior, etc.)   

Self-confidence:  92% of juvenile probation clients reported they now feel more comfortable volunteering with an organization than they did before being assigned community service hours.

Outcome #2 Relationships and Connections: 95% of juvenile probation clients surveyed reported a new relationship and/or connection at the placement organization where they completed their community service assignment.

Clients who plan to continue to volunteer in the same organization:  58%

Clients who plan to stay connected to the organization because of services offered at that organization or relationship to staff member(s):  75%

Offered paid positions at the organization:  6%

Made new community contacts:  69%

Outcome #3 Community Engagement 99% of juvenile probation clients surveyed reported they have a new understanding of the impact they can have in our community. 

Clients believed the organization benefitted from their volunteer work:  98%

Clients reported making a positive impact in community or organization:  95%

Clients who would consider volunteering at non-profits in the future:  86%

Clients who feel equipped to mentor another young person on the ins and outs of community service:  71%