Our diversion programs prioritize youth accountability, increasing community connectedness and utilization of restorative justice principles. One of the goals for all of our programs is to divert and reduce youth involvement in the formal juvenile justice system. Although the process for each of the programs looks slightly different, the goal remains the same. Below is a brief outline of the process a youth would go through from initial contact to program completion.
1. Initial Contact
Youth referred to our program have either committed a criminal offense or have displayed some anti-social behaviors. These behaviors and actions have caused them to come in contact with law enforcement or school administration.
Once the offense or behavior occurs, a decision will be made about next steps. For youth, with a first time offense, misdemeanor or minor infractions, referrals will be made to diversion programs (Teen Court, restorative circles, diversion contracts) to prevent further involvement in the court process. Youth with more severe offenses, may be approved for juvenile court and required to participate in programs such as community service. We receive referrals from law enforcement/SROs, school administrators, and juvenile court counselors.
Upon receiving the referral, program staff will review the case and evaluate eligibility for the program(s). Program staff will contact the family to set up an intake appointment. During the intake, the youth and parent/guardian learn more about the programs and what participation looks like. If the youth and parent are onboard to participate and the youth is eligible, they will be admitted into the program. If a youth is not willing or eligible to participate, the referral will be sent back to the referral source and can move forward to juvenile services/court.
4. Program Participation & Completion
After admission to the program, youth have between 3-12 months to complete requirements depending on the program. Successful completion of the program for Teen Court and Restorative Circle participants, means that they have completed all program requirements and the offense will not lead to a juvenile record. For youth referred from juvenile services, successful completion means that they have met the requirements made my juvenile services staff and/or the court and can lead to a dismissal.
If a youth is unsuccessful in completing the requirements of a program, the referral is sent back to the referral source for further legal action.