The Juvenile Diversion and Truancy program from Family Service & Children’s Aid provides first time at risk youth the opportunity to improve their overall choices and behavior. The program helps to prevent further prosecution, tries to improve family relationships and promotes regular school attendance. Courts refer teens to the program and upon completion their records are wiped clean. This allows them to move forward in life. They will be able to get a job, go to school, enter the military or anything else they wouldn’t have been able to do if they had a criminal record.
FSCA’s Juvenile Diversion and Truancy Prevention Program aligns with the outcome statement(s) by assessing familial needs and providing the needed supports and appropriate referrals as identified by the family. The program offers referral and advocacy services that may assist the client and their family with emotional, and/or educational support. Staff collaborates with various local mental health providers (both internally and externally) and refers the youth or family for mental health services as needed. An educational emphasis is placed in service planning with the family. Any barriers that may prevent the student from successful academic performance are addressed through collaboration with the school counselors, teachers, other school staff, parents, and youth. The Diversion Advocate works closely with the youth through regular school visits for monitoring and ensuring attendance and academic expectations are met.
The Juvenile Diversion Program follows an evidence based model which takes into account the youths’ underlying risks, continuously provides assessment, offers proven intervention methods and services and examines both long and short term impact. Family Service & Children’s Aid Juvenile Diversion has a 94% success rate among the kids who complete the program. Jim is just one of their many success stories. He was 15 years old when the courts referred him to the program following an assault and battery charge. During the intake process, it was discovered that Jim had come from a home where he had experienced violent behavior and also had trouble relating to others and making friends. Jim was failing most of his classes in school and felt insecure, worthless, and like he didn’t fit in anywhere. They identified three barriers that were negatively impacting Jim; his lack of social connectedness, his struggles to deal with his feelings appropriately, and his trouble with academic success. Jim was put in touch with a youth center where he could receive mentoring and begin to develop healthy relationships. We worked closely with the staff at Jim’s school and were able to identify and address his academic struggles. Jim participated in their anger management program and began to build skills for dealing with his emotions in more positive ways. Jim also learned how to set and accomplish goals for himself. A year later, Jim is employed part time, and has saved a significant amount of money to go toward his first car. Jim is also passing all his classes in school, has developed some healthy relationships, and has stayed out of trouble with the law. Jim’s mom reported that he was also planning to sign up for the ROTC program at the career center and is interested in joining the armed forces.