The Court Employment Project (CEP)  is a 6- to 12-month alternative-to-incarceration program for young people facing felony charges in New York City. CEP has provided an alternative sanction for youth in NYC courts since it was established in 1967, and today it is CASES’ longest-running and largest youth program, offering ATI services to young people in the Bronx, Brooklyn, Manhattan, and Queens.
Our staff collected the most frequently asked questions about CEP and answered them below. Questions were provided by CASES’ court representatives working in courtrooms across the City. These questions range from the technical (Who is eligible for the program?) to the general (What services does CEP provide?), and we hope this is helpful for anyone—in the courts or in the community—looking to learn more about the program.
Does CEP accept young people charged with a violent felony?
Yes. CEP’s eligibility requirements are intended to target young people ages 15–24 who would receive a jail or prison sentence without the intervention of an alternative to incarceration (ATI), including defendants who are incarcerated at intake or at any point between the felony arraignments.
What services does CEP provide?
Every participant enrolled in CEP is offered the following core services: case management, community supervision, court representation, and substance use testing. During their orientation, participants will complete a series of education, employment, mental health, and substance use screenings and assessments to determine specific services based on their needs. Each participant collaborates with their CEP case coordinator to develop an individualized program plan that will incorporate services responsive to their needs and goals, typically including education and/or employment services promoting key protective factors for justice-involved youth.
What will the participant do while at CASES?
Participants are expected to work toward the goals of their individualized program plans both onsite and in the community. Scheduled activities depend on the needs of the individual and may include involvement in education/school, employment, and/or substance use or mental health treatment. All participants are required to meet weekly with their case coordinators for counseling sessions to discuss progress, barriers, and actions toward their service plan goals.
Can a client work with CEP if they are working or in school full time?
Absolutely. CEP encourages youth to be connected to constructive activities in the community and provides community monitoring including communication with schools for attendance and engagement and verification of employment.
If a participant is not attending school, what can you do to help them re-engage with their education goals?
CEP supports participants and their caregivers by assisting with public school enrollment and transfers, providing regular school visits, and monitoring school attendance. For youth who are interested in achieving their High School Equivalency (HSE), we provide onsite classes and HSE testing as well as referrals to external partners (e.g., postsecondary programs). CASES also provides onsite individual tutoring.
Does CEP accept clients with mental health issues?
Yes. CEP’s Enhanced Behavioral Health (EBH)
teams are designed to address the mental health and substance use needs of justice-involved young people. These teams are embedded in each of CASES’ CEP offices—including in Central Harlem, Downtown Brooklyn, and Queens—and provide our clients with comprehensive behavioral health treatment planning and in-court advocacy to judges, prosecutors, and defense attorneys.
In addition to the EBH teams, CEP participants can also access CASES’ wraparound behavioral health services, including in-community family therapy from Adolescent Portable Therapy (APT)  and treatment from CASES’ Nathaniel Clinic .
How often are CEP participants drug tested?
All participants are randomly drug tested throughout their time in the program. Testing varies from weekly to monthly depending on a participant’s past or present use.
Will you notify us if a young person is non-compliant?
Yes. CASES’ mission is to promote public safety. We are committed to continuously supporting the safety and success of our young people in the community and to ongoing accountability to the Court. CASES provides the Court with detailed and timely information about the compliance and non-compliance of our participants. In addition to providing reports at each court date, CEP court staff maintain continuous communication between court dates with the Courts and court partners.