The Cost of Juvenile Probation: A Critical Look into Juvenile Supervision Fees


On average supervision fees cost around $50 per month for the length of the child’s probation. 

Probation is the most common disposition for a child to receive, with more than 200,000 children placed on probation each year. In courts across the country, children and their families are required to pay supervision fees in addition to program costs that may arise out of probation. These fees place a burden on children and their families and exacerbate existing racial and economic disparities. The National Juvenile Defender Center conducted a survey on the practice and enforcement of supervision fees assessed for juvenile probation, concluding that the practice of charging supervision fees for juvenile probation is inconsistent with the goals of juvenile court, worsens racial and economic disparities in the juvenile court system, and creates a tremendous burden on children and families. The brief concludes with recommendations for reform and innovative examples from local jurisdictions. 

Read the full issue brief here.

Key Findings:  

  • Twenty-one states have at least one jurisdiction that assesses a supervision fee for children on juvenile probation. 
  • Eight states charge children or their families for services that may arise out of probation. 
  • Twenty states and D.C. have a statewide practice against charging supervision fees for juvenile fees. 
  • Supervision fees vary widely, ranging from a flat fee of $100 compared to other states that charge a monthly fee that can add up to over $2,000 for the entire length of probation. 
  • Once collected, fees are either sent to a general fund or used to help pay for the probation department or the juvenile court system. 
  • Most states do not have a judicial procedure in place to consider the child or family’s ability to pay supervision fees.
  • Many states impose a range of penalties for failure to pay supervision fees including civil judgment, extension of probation, violation of probation, and suspension of driving privileges.


  • Eliminate the use of supervision fees for juvenile probation or implement a rebuttable presumption that all children lack the ability to pay them.
  • Waive supervision fees or recommend waiver of the fees before the juvenile court. 


National Juvenile Defender Center